Brazil's top court rules to make homophobia a crime

RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A majority of judges in Brazil’s top court has voted to criminalize homophobia in a move welcomed by campaigners concerned about a rollback in gay rights and the murder of hundreds of LGBT+ people every year.

Six of 11 of Brazil’s Supreme Court judges late Thursday agreed that acts of homophobia and transphobia should be treated under current anti-discrimination laws until the country’s parliament passed legislation dealing with LGBT+ protection. This would make violence against LGBT+ people a crime and make it illegal to deny access to education or jobs, to refuse service in stores, or to bar LGBT+ people from public buildings.

The court will resume voting in the first week of June, and, after the remaining judges vote, the ruling will go into effect. Felipe Carvalho, president of the Niteroi Diversity Group, a non-profit that focuses on rights for LGBT+ people, said the vote was a “very significant step”.

“This won’t end LGBT-phobia, but it opens a number of possibilities for us,” Carvalho told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Homophobia is common in Brazil, a deeply religious country where both the Catholic Church and the popular evangelical Christian movement are frequently critical of gay rights and violence against LGBT+ people is rife. Read more via Reuters