Anti-LGBT+ Sentiments in Brazil

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
25 July 2022

We are representing a gay couple from Brazil in their appeal against refusal of their asylum claim.  The reason the asylum application was refused was because the Home Office concluded that they did not qualify for refugee status as they did not demonstrate to a reasonable degree of likelihood that they have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their membership of a social group or because of their political opinion.

The Home Office considered that despite their political activity and campaigning on social media, there is no evidence of persecution or discrimination against LGBTI people in Brazil.  This is despite the fact that they have received threats, suspension of their social media accounts, hateful comments from the President’s supporters and followers.

We have asked an expert to comment on the current situation in Brazil for the LGBT+ population and particularly the risk to gay men and the risk on return based on sexual orientation, gender expression, personal profile and the adequacy of state protection against their treatment and the ability to relocate internally within Brazil.

To many of the readers of this blog Brazil is a country of carnival and music. However, one has to remember that Brazil is the world’s biggest Catholic population and a growing evangelical Christian movement and therefore when the President Bolsonaro was elected in 2019, his victory was secured because of the support of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and that gave rise to an increasingly hostile rhetoric against gays in Brazil.

The empowerment of these evangelical religions in Brazil affected the political structure in the country to the extent that one in six members of Brazil’s Lower House has itself identified as an evangelist making it the most conservative national congress in Brazil since 1984. Therefore, the refusal of our client’s asylum application must be seen against this background. Brazil is not a tolerant country for gay men and lesbians and despite the fact that the Supreme Court criminalised homophobia in Brazil, a significant number of elected politicians are the President’s supporters and therefore are committed to eroding LGBT rights. In addition we were shocked to realise that there is a “hate cabinet” which is a team of the President’s allies who are now running different positions in Brazilian politics and they continue to spread hate against the gay community and anyone who does not align with Christian morals and values. The way that the “hate cabinet” works is by anonymous attacks on social media belonging to people, authorities or institutions and they spread hate. What we see in Brazil at the moment is a mixture of a religious uprising, political approach and conservative movements, all aimed to fight and erode LGBT rights.

In short whilst the President’s behaviour is not condoned by legislation it is replicated by his supporters who feel encourage to partake in homophobic actions and therefore the only way for the gay community to avoid the adverse attention is by hiding or concealing their sexuality against their will.

At Danielle Cohen Solicitors we encourage people to live their best lives and to live openly and proudly. We encourage the Home Office to amend their guidance on Brazil in light of the President’s behaviour.