From Carnival to contract killers.
By
Stephanie Marie Anderson

23 Nov 2016 - 1:47 PM  UPDATED 16 Aug 2017 - 6:26 PM

Carnival embraces and attracts LGBTQ community

There's a float that celebrates diverse sexual identities in the Carnivale parade, and it's one of the main attractions of the whole parade.

"I come every year because it is a place that is made for us trans people. Because it's a place where we always feel welcome," says one woman attending the festival.

Brazil has marriage equality already, and was the first country in the southern hemisphere to marry and adopt children, but Christian fundamentalism is holding Brazil's LGBT+ community back from true equality

Brazil has the largest number of Catholics in the world, and has recently seen a rise in conservative Christian fundamentalism. They're currently trying to have Brazil's progressive laws repealed.

"Brazil has blatant contradictions," says Jean Wyllys, Brazil's only openly gay politician. "We have the biggest Carnival in the world, a carnival where men can dress as women, where people openly express sexuality."

Wyllys says that Christian fundamentalism is holding the LGBT+ community back, explaining: "It is historically a common belief that homosexuals are sinners. The majority of Brazilian families don't want to have homosexual kids or they reject them. Politicians and religious leaders who reject homosexuality, have a large following. And that makes them very influential."

We see a clip of Congressman Jair Bolsonaro on television, saying: "When your son becomes a little gay, give him a good spanking, and he'll change his behaviour."

Speaking with Ellen later in the episode, Bolsonaro rejects that he is "one of the biggest homophobes in Brazil", saying: "That's not accurate. My fight was always and always will be against the distribution of LGBTQ school material for kids over six years old. That's all."

Ellen tells him that she is gay, and asks if he believes she should've been beaten as a child.

He responds by telling her that it "doesn't matter" to him whether she's gay or not, adding she's "very nice" and "very pretty" and that if he saw her on the street he would "whistle at [her]".

He then says that being gay is "a behavioural issue" and that "the number of homosexuals has really increased" due to "liberal habits, drugs" and women being in the workplace. 

Brazil has the highest LGBT+ murder rate in the world

Despite Carnival being a place for everyone to be accepted and celebrate together, over 300 Brazilian LGBT+ people have been murdered in the past year, 35% of whom were transgender.

"Those are very violent crimes. We're not talking about one single shot. Normally they're killed and their bodies are violated. Heads cut off, eyes stabbed,"  Jean Wyllys tells Ellen and Ian.

Ellen and Ian confront a former policeman and contract killer who has killed many LGBT+ people. When Ellen asks him if he believes that killing gay people "contradicted" his then-job as a police officer, he replies: "No, I think every pigsty should be cleaned up. So how do I do my job? By cleaning up what is dirty. For me, they are worse than animals. If they cross my path I'll take care of them." 

The highest percentage of LGBT+ murders take place in favelas - densely populated, low socio-economic areas of the country

One favela with a population of over 300k has its own Pride parade every year. "Last year, the organiser of the parade was shot," Ian tells us.

Jonathan, a favela resident, says that life as an LGBT+ person in a favela "depends a lot on the favela". 

"There are a lot of communities that accept it, others that support it, while others are more prejudiced," he explains. "It depends on each place".

He says that his community is accepting of LGBT+ people and that they're "treated well and respected".

Women and transgender people are more at risk than gay men

"Lesbian women and transgender people are more vulnerable than gay men," says Jean Wyllys. "We live in a male dominated society, and... women are placed in subordinate positions. And if the lesbian is a little more masculine then they are even more discriminated against. For example, in Brazil there has been a wave of 'corrective rapes', with many men raping lesbian women to 'cure them' or their homosexuality."

Ana Rezende, a Brazilian native, a friend of Ellen's and the bass player for band CSS, says that although she feels comfortable in Brazil because she is "sort of like, protected by [her] privilege", she wouldn't hold her girlfriend's hand in public because she wouldn't want to attract attention from people.

"It's not normal for people to see that, so there's a lot of staring," she says. "It's as if you're naked on the streets, and I just don't want to draw that kind of attention to me." 

Luana Muniz is a transgender activist and sex worker who works to protect the trans sex worker community in Brazil

Luana has been a sex worker since the age of 10 and now works to protect other transgender sex workers. She, along with her friends, created an organisation to "legitimise and protect them in the eyes of the law."

"I noticed we had no voice," she says. "We were treated as criminals or poor little girls."

She said she helped create the organisation because she couldn't "deal alone with other people's pain". 

Missed Gaycation last night? Catch up right now, on SBS On Demand: