The Supreme Court of Brazil has recently voted to make homophobia and transphobia crimes like racism. Out of the 11 judges, 6 voted in favour of the measure. The five other judges will vote in a court session on June 5, 2019, but the result will not be modified.
The decision will take effect after all the justices have voted.
Racism was declared as a crime in Brazil in 1989 attracting prison sentences of up to five years. The top court’s judges ruled that homophobia should be framed within the racism law until the country’s Congress approves legislation specifically dealing with LGBT discrimination.
Brazil’s Senate is presently dealing with a bill to criminalize discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender with sentences of up to five years.
“Racism is a crime against flesh and blood, whether it is a member of the LGBT community, a Jew or an Afro-descendant,” Justice Luiz Fux said on May 23, 2019.
While same-sex marriage is legal in Brazil, it is still a deadly country for members of the LGBT community. According to the rights group the Grupo Gay da Bahia, 420 LGBT people were killed across Brazil in 2018, while at least 141 have been killed so far this year.
The decision has come amid fears that the country’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro who assumed office on January 1, 2019, will roll back LGBT social gains.
President Bolsonaro has a history of offensive comments about gays, blacks and other minorities, openly acknowledging he is a homophobe. He has said he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.