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It was a dark week for the LGBTQ community in Brazil. It began with the brutal killing of a trans woman, whose heart was ripped out and replaced with the image of a saint, and ended with an openly gay congressman and advocate for LGBTQ rights giving up his seat because he feared for his life.
HuffPost Brazil’s Andréa Martinelli and Leda Antunes reported on the killing, which they say sent shockwaves through the country’s trans community but didn’t make it to TV news.
“This is a crime with a refinement of cruelty that exposes, in a radical way, what trans people are subject to in Brazil,” Andréa said.
Police arrested Caio Santos de Oliveira, 20, in connection with the crime. (Videos circulating online show him brazenly telling reporters that he killed 35-year-old Quelly da Silva because the “demon” deserved it.) But Andréa points out that de Oliveira can’t be charged with a hate crime since transphobia isn’t mentioned in the country’s criminal code.
“This is another element that this crime exposes: the difficulty classifying these crimes correctly,” she said. “Homophobia, for example, is not a crime in Brazil.“
Two petitions have been submitted to the country’s Supreme Court requesting the criminalization of LGBTQ-phobia. The court is scheduled to vote on the petitions next month, but Andréa says the cases may be delayed.
In the meantime, the community continues to struggle against staggering levels of violence. Brazil is one of the most dangerous places in the world for transgender people. The country consistently leads a global ranking of trans murders published annually by Transgender Europe, a trans advocacy group. And advocates of LGBTQ rights, like departing congressman Jean Wyllys, say the violence has only gotten worse since the election of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.
“I have no positive expectations about this government,” Wyllys told Brazil’s Folha newspaper. He refused to say much more on the topic, citing his desire to “take care of myself and keep myself alive.”
For more on women’s and LGBTQ issues in Brazil, readers of Portuguese can follow follow HuffPost’s @anabeatrizrr1. All subscribers should stay tuned for more on Brazil under new President Jair Bolsonaro.
HuffPost U.K. turned its attention this week to the “quiet but profound impact” austerity cuts are having on young people who rely on local sexual health clinics. Local councils, which oversee STI testing and most contraceptive services in the country, cut spending on sexual health last year by 5 percent, even as gonorrhoea and syphilis rates were climbing. As a result, the sort of clinics teenagers might visit for discreet testing and counseling have closed, reduced their business hours and moved farther away. The story is the latest in HuffPost U.K.’s “What It’s Like To Lose” series, which paints an important picture of what life is like for millions of people who rely on vanishing public services.
HuffPost Canada’s Samantha Beattie broke stories this week about a string of sexual harassment allegations against Canada’s “Prince of Pot,” a well-known figure in the country’s cannabis circles. “I followed up with the women making the claims [on Twitter] of sexual harassment, and inappropriate conduct, and it snowballed from there,” she said. Samantha spoke with 10 people who accused Marc Emery of everything from inviting teenage employees to smoke from a bong placed between his legs, to giving underaged girls LSD and ecstasy. The 60-year-old denied allegations against him, although he said in a Facebook post that he did “kiss a few employees, male and female” if they welcomed it and had smoked pot with 17-year-old friends. “I got a lot of responses, especially from my first story, mostly positive, saying how Emery allegedly behaved was an open secret for a long time,” Samantha said. “Many women told me they were relieved Emery’s actions have been called into question, and hope it will discourage him from treating women in a similar way in the future.”