Warns: Respect Gays or Else
the lead of São Paulo and Rio, the state of Santa Catarina
has just passed a law that will severely fine businesses
discriminating against gays. There will be heavy fines and
recidivists might lose permanently their operating license.
Images of Latin America's
machismo and its resultant homophobia are changing now that individual
rightssuch as the right to act in accordance with one's sexual orientationenjoy
the protection of law. Brazil, South America's largest country, which
adopted a liberal constitution in 1988, continues to fashion protections
for all of its citizens.
Shortly after electing
labor hero Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as that nation's president,
to the dismay of Brazil's right-wing zealots, various states are now taking
serious measures ensuring that no one will be discriminated against because
of his or her sexual orientation.
Following the lead
of important states such as São PauloBrazil's largestRio
de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina has just promulgated a new
law, recently signed by its governor, that will severely fine businesses
discriminating against gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgenders. The
text of the new law does not, at least apparently, give way to any loopholes:
or discriminatory act against any homosexual, bisexual or transgender
citizen will be punished accordingly with the law."
The punishments are
cumulative: A first offense will bring a warning, but any subsequent action
will be heavily fined. Fines vary from $300 to $1000a considerable
sum in Brazil. In the case of further incidences, the offender will face
the permanent seizure of his operating license.
The law goes into
Santa Catarina's bold
step into social equality was met with enthusiasm by same-sex activists
in Santa Catarina ("Hooray!", read the title of Glssite's
newsletter commemorating the law's signing) who worked long and hard to
get it passed.
The first Brazilian
state to create such laws, which then generated much controversy, was
Bahia, the northeastern home of the Luis Mott-led Grupo Gay da Bahia,
arguably the largest and best-known gay activist group in the nation.
Its laws were enacted in 1997.
A few years ago, this
writer reported in another publication how same-sex couples following
a lawsuit won the right to receive Social Security benefits previously
awarded only to conventional couples outside of wedlock, thanks to a clause
in the new Constitution awarding live-in couples the same benefits granted
to those who marry.
The UN Resolution
Text of the draft
resolution presented by Brazil to be voted on at the 59th session of the
United Nations Commission on Human Rights, April 23:
"Human Rights and Sexual Orientation"
The Commission on Human Rights,
Reaffirming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the
Convention on the Rights of the Child,
Recalling that recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and
inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation
of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Reaffirming that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the
principle of the inadmissibility of discrimination and proclaims that
all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that
everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein
without distinction of any kind,
Affirming that human rights education is a key to changing attitudes and
behaviour and to promoting respect for diversity in societies,
1. Expresses deep concern at the occurrence of violations of human rights
in the world against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation;
2. Stresses that human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright
of all human beings, that the universal nature of these rights and freedoms
is beyond question and that the enjoyment of such rights and freedoms
should not be hindered in any way on the grounds of sexual orientation;
3. Calls upon all States to promote and protect the human rights of all
persons regardless of their sexual orientation;
4. Notes the attention given to human rights violations on the grounds
of sexual orientation by the special procedures in their reports to the
Commission on Human Rights, as well as by the treaty monitoring bodies,
and encourages all special procedures of the Commission, within their
mandates, to give due attention to the subject;
5. Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to pay
due attention to the violation of human rights on the grounds of sexual
6. Decides to continue consideration of the matter at its sixtieth session
under the same agenda item.
is an ESL and Portuguese teacher. In addition to that, he is a freelance
writer who has regularly been contributing The Greenwich Village
Gazette since September 1999. His work has also been published
by Brazzil, The Staten Island Advance, The Staten
Island Register, The SI Muse, The Villager, GLSSite
and other publications. He lives in Staten Island, NY. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was
previously featured on GayToday.