European, American and Brazilian LGBT recent History

Why is June the Gay Pride Month? 

Where does it come from? 

And where is it going to? 

By Sergio Viula

Human beings tend to get used to their surroundings, be it sceneries, interpersonal relationships, habits, ideas, etc. Unfortunately, due to that ability or deficiency, depending on the point of view, the human animal is capable of living with injustice without noticing them or even thinking them over. To make matters worse, there are people who wonder or feel uncomfortable before the least questioning of the status quo. Those are usually called conservative and alike. Thus, several kinds of violence, injustice and inequality abide with the indifference of those who are not directly affected, and sometimes even by those who are. This is the “tribe” of “that’s what it’s like”. Fortunately, there are those who understand the urgency and importance of acting in a way that may bring up transformations into a more balanced and fair existence to all. And, thankfully, not does this group only contain people who are affected by those inequalities, but also people who are sympathetic to their situation as any human being should be. These are people trained in the art of solidarity who understand that every time a person or group is denied one right, all the others take the chance of having their own usurped – whatever the person or group at stake.

What we acknowledge as LGBT Movement nowadays, whatever the country or age, aspires to recognition as to the right of existing, living, loving, working, expressing oneself and accessing basic services in the fields of health, education, culture, etc. without any sexual or gender identity discrimination. It may sound weird to people who have never gone through homophobia at physical or symbolical levels, such as making a struggle to simply rent a house or get a job. Notwithstanding, there are worse situations. For example, in countries where homosexuality is held as crime, a homosexual can be arrested and even killed just for loving someone the same sex.

Yes, twelve years after the beginning of the 21st century, 40% of the countries which compose the United Nations still hold sexual acts between two same-sex people as crime, according to ILGA’s 2012 report on State sponsored homophobia relatório ILGA 2012. It is worthy saying that it is all about homophobia sponsored by the State, it is, that which is sanctioned and executed by the State itself through its police, juridical apparatus and others. In absolute figures, we are speaking of 78 countries where an LGBT persons’ life is unbearable.

On the other hand, the report highlights that homosexuality is illegal in 113 countries which are members to the United Nations. Out of those, 55 hold some legislation against discrimination on sexual orientation grounds in the workplace. In ten of them, gay and lesbian people can enjoy full, equal marital rights. And in twelve of them, they are allowed to adopt children. These are some of the elements that characterize the legal status of gay and lesbian individuals around the world in May, 2012, according to the referred report.

But, where does all this fuss by the LGBT Movement in pursuit of political, juridical, social, cultural recognition come from? How did lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and transgender people quit being indifferent to the system that oppresses them and became activists that demand due status as full citizens?

In order to answer that question, we will go backwards in recent history:

The movement for the full citizenship of LGBT people started in Europe, going global from initiatives by the American LGBT populations, gaining recognition as a legitimate civil movement in several countries in the world, including the UN (United Nations), where the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted consultative status to the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) in July 26th, 2011. That status allows ILGA to assist and intervene with the UN conferences and send in statements. ILGA, thus, become part of the 750 organizations which have consultative character within the UN, but fully committed to working in favor of LGBT rights. The States that voted for granting ILGA consultative status were India, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary.

The votes against it came from Iraq, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Ghana, Zambia. There were five abstentions, which were namely Guatemala, Philippines, Rwanda, Bahamas, Ivory Coast and six countries did not attend or did not vote. Those were Comoros, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

ILGA’s regional secretary in Latin America, Pedro Paradiso highlights that, to the organization, consultative status is “an act of justice and a cause to pride for the international community,” as it implies advancement so that “human rights may really be respected without any kind of discrimination".

" Our voices and our struggle for equality and freedom must reach every corner of the world, for differences in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to be respected and protected by all States. We believe that the ECOSOC status will help all our activists around the world in this endeavour.” (ILGA)

However, it has not always been like that.

In Europe

Considering recent history alone, the first writings about discrimination against homosexual people date back to 1869, being written by a Hungarian doctor, Karóly Benkert. He wrote a letter to the German Ministry of Justice condemning the new German penal code, due to its article number 175, which stated that sexual acts between men were crime. Benkert was the first person to use – also in that letter – the term ‘homosexual’ to name those acts.

Also, considering the struggle against paragraph 175 of the German penal code, we must recognize that the first movements in defense of homosexual liberation took place in the 19th century Germany. The year 1897 witnessed the foundation of the Scientific-Humanitary Committee (Wissenschaftlich-humanitãres Komitee – WhK), which promoted several activities related to sexuality research until 1933, when Nazism launched violent persecution, just taking power in Germany. Hitler used paragraph 175 to throw hundreds of thousands of homosexuals in smelly, infected concentration camps, where those men were tortured, exploited in forced and degraded work, used in experiments and ruthlessly killed.

Throughout its existence, the Scientific-Humanitary Committee set the roots of what would become the homosexual movement along the century. Among other things, the Committee took part in cinema productions that discussed homosexuality. The most famous of them was “Different from the Others”, from 1919, in which Hirschfeld played the role of a doctor that seeks to convince society that homosexuality is not a crime or disease. His speech is valid to this day:

“We must take heed that the time will come when such tragedies will be no more [the suicide of the gay leading character]. For knowledge will conquer prejudice, truth will conquer lies, and love will triumph over hatred”.

The decades of 1930 and 1940 were marked by regression and defeat caused by fascism and war. However, in the 50s, the international homosexual movement gained traction with the fight of North-American homosexuals against the ‘witch hunt’ promoted by Senator McCarthy. However, those small groups that sprang up at that time were foreshadows of the powerful homosexual movement that would emerge in that country two decades later.

In December 8th, 2004, The Gay Museum was finally opened to the public, officially named Schwules Museum. That is the only museum in the world which is exclusively dedicated to issues related to homosexuality, holding an archive and a library of such great volume that it could be fairly considered a research center. Studious and curious people will find publications issued by the Schwules Museum itself, portraying the daily history of homosexual groups and of the movement that emerged from them.

Alongside Paris, London, Vienna, Amsterdam and Rome, Berlin is one of the European metropolises where, since 1700, the existence of a homosexual ‘underworld’ is documented, with its venues, fashion and even their speaking manners. That richness arises from the need to survive being a homosexual in the mainstream culture which is usually prejudiced or indifferent.

With photos, vintage clothing and all kinds of documents, the permanent display reveals how homosexuals – mainly those who were Lucky to be born in a bourgeois cradle – would find ways to express their interest in same-sex partners through those circles in the 19th-century Berlin.

However, a good deal of what is exposed in the Schwules Museum illustrates the ‘paradise’ that Republic-of-Weimar Berlin represented to homosexuals in the 20s, when the first homosexual films and magazines of the world appeared. In that political-cultural soil a movement which dared to express itself germinated.


Despite being respected in the SA of Ernst Roehm (one of the paramilitary organizations of the Nazi movement) at first, homosexuality was soon repressed and the SA troopers were thrown in concentration camps due to their sexual orientation.

Researches recompiled survivors’ testimonies, especially from the Sachsenhausen camp, in the surroundings of Berlin, where it is calculated that at least 600 homosexuals died, according to the man-in-chief of the museum communication department, Gerrit Rohrbacher.

The Schwules Museum also approaches post-war happenings, such as gay life in the extinct German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the western struggle to suppress paragraph 175 from the Penal Code, which punished homosexuality and was based on a Prussian law from 1851, assumed by Germany after war (1949) and aggravated by the Nazi. Paragraph 175 was the battle horse of the German homosexual movement, which got it eliminated in 1994, that is, almost fifty years after the Nazi had signed their rendition, sealing the end of World War II.

While the Jews and other survivors from concentration camps were getting State support and reparation, the gay men who survived the massacre would still have to hide their pain, as the law kept criminalizing their affection. How to repair or support someone who had been arrested on the basis of the penal code (paragraph 175)? About that issue, it is indispensable to read Pierre Seel’s book, himself a survivor from the Nazi concentration camps, I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual, Perseus Books, 2011.

Paragraph 175 suppression was a tremendous victory, but too late for those who had been forced to display a pink triangle, signal of their incarceration for being homosexual.

In the United States

The 60s were marked by a revolution in manners and behavior of wide sectors in the American society and in several other capitalist countries. 1968 made history as the student rebellion year. Nevertheless, 1969 became a milestone in the fight for homosexual rights. On June 28th, 1969, the police of New York promoted one of their usual raids on a bar attended by homosexuals, the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village. However, this time thing went very differently from usual. Tired of being humiliated and persecuted, the homosexuals who were in the bar, led by transvestites, resisted to the police, locking themselves inside the bar and setting fire to the place. The battle was fought with stones and bottles for weapons and involved thousands of people, extending throughout the dawn of the 28th and four nights after that.

On the first anniversary of the rebellion, 10 thousand homosexuals, from all North-American states, marched along the streets of New York, demonstrating their willingness to fight for their rights. Since then, June 28th has been considered the Gay Pride International Day.

Concomitantly, religious fundamentalism suffered a stroke in its own field. One of the biggest Christian denominations emerged, but with an inclusive vision that would not only accept, but celebrate sexual diversity, both in the Church body and in the ecclesiastical ministry. It was the Metropolitan Community Church, whose foundation took place within a worship servisse in the suburbs of Los Angeles in 1968, under Rev. Troy Perry. Nowadays, the Metropolitan Community Church counts 43,000 members and aggregated people in more than 300 congregations spread in 22 countries. Troy Perry, however, was not the first pastor to revise the interpretation method applied to Christian scriptures.

The theological pioneering belongs to Derrick Sherwin Bailey (1910-1984), who was the first thinker to reevaluate the traditional understanding of the biblical bans on homosexual love. He was a clergyman who lived in the Cathedral of Wells [in Somerset, England]. Although, he was not a theologian or a fulltime academic researcher of the Bible, after World War II, he led a small group of Anglican clergymen and medical doctors to study homosexuality. His conclusions were issued in a report released in 1954, called The Problem of Homosexuality which was produced to the Church of England [Anglican Church] and had moderating influence on the church’s subsequent position on the moral issues raised by homosexuality.

Bailey’s and his mates’ work paved the way for the progressive Wolfenden Report (1957), which was followed by the decriminalization of the homosexual acts among consensual adults in England and Wales one decade later.

As a separate project that resulted from that work, he dedicated himself to a historical study which ended in the publication of his essential, pioneer “Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition”. Although that monograph had been criticized, he was anyhow a reference point on the issue, combining detailed investigation of biblical evidence with the gathering of subsequent history. Bailey’s book drew attention to several neglected issues, such as register/wills of inheritance (intertestamental literature), legislation by Christian emperors, penitentiary records, and the correlation between heresy and sodomy. Since then, his work was overcome by more extensive analysis by academic experts on the Bible; but his work had an important influence on the first work or historians who followed him up, such as John Boswell with “Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality”, Mark D. Jordan with “The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology” and scholars with biblical specialization, such as William Countryman with his book “Dirt, Greed, and Sex”.

He was also important for influencing the conclusions of the British Wolfenden Report, which led to decriminalization of homosexuality in the United Kingdom, and later to deliberation by the Anglican Church on the issue.

Nowadays, not only the so-called inclusive churches, as the Metropolitan Community Church, but even some traditional churches, such as the American Presbyterian Church has already consecrated an openly gay pastor for their ministry. That is the case of Scott Anderson, the first Presbyterian openly gay pastor, who was consecrated on October 8th, 2011. Before him, however, the Episcopal Church had already consecrated their first openly gay Bishop in the USA, Bishop Gene Robinson, in November, 2003, followed by an assistant Bishop who is openly lesbian, Reverend Mary Glasspool in December, 2009. Several other denominations have opened up to discuss the inclusion of gay ministers in their staff, as well as the celebration of weddings and other religious practices.

Nonetheless, that is not exclusive to the Protestant Christianity, as other traditionally antipathetical-to-gay-people religions are revising their concepts and becoming more sympathetic to this population segment’s demands. That is the case of Jews and Muslims, both Imams and their followers seguidores. Even the Roman Catholicism, which has been one of the most resistant persecutors of homosexuals in history, having tortured and killed countless homosexuals through Inquisition trials, cannot avoid the flow of history and the appeal that basic human rights has on their priests (see the American nun Margaret A. Farley), besides para-church organizations which mobilize followers seguidores and parishes.

Resuming to mobilizations and manifestations in the 70s, it is worth saying that they resulted in the birth of hundreds of gay and lesbian organizations, which obtained important victories, such as the ones below:

1. They made the American Psychiatric Association re-discuss the classification of homosexuals as sick people;

2. They put an end to the ban on hiring homosexual as civil servants in several cities and states of the USA;

3. They conquered the annulment of laws that punished sodomy as crime in eighteen states of the USA;

4. They got the approval or laws against discrimination in the workplace and housing in several American cities.

However, all the progress that was achieved in the early decade was roughly attacked throughout the 70s and the 80s. The increase of the world economic crisis made room for a conservative discourse which helped revoke several anti-discrimination laws, despite the resistance endured by organized militancy groups and the homosexual community in general. One of the most important examples of that clash took place in Miami, Florida, in 1977. The ban of a law in defense of homosexual rights led hundreds of thousands of people to the streets in order to protest against the attacks against homosexual people’s rights and to moan the murder of a community member by three adolescents.

As the conservative wave pushes on and legal rights are revoked, physical attacks against homosexuals also increased in number. The most notorious case undoubtedly was the assassination of Harvey Milk, in San Francisco, the first openly gay city counselor elected in the USA.

In November, 1978, an ex-policeman and city counselor, Dan White, assassinated Milk and the city Mayor inside the City Hall itself. The assassination brought up a big deal of demonstrations at national and international levels, reaching its climax in May of the following year, when White, despite all the evidence, was given a minimal sentence (eight years, with the right to supervised freedom after five years).

Before that result, 10 thousand people gathered together in front of the City Hall to protest. The demonstration quickly evolved into a violent clash with the police, resulting in 119 wounded (among police officers and protesters), generalized damage to the City Hall building and several burnt cars. The protesters’ insurrection got worse as the police officers attacked them shouting that the time to “clean up the city” and take it back from the “fags’” hands had come. Nowadays, not only do the police officers of San Francisco Police Department respect the LGBT population, but also show sympathy, as it can be seen on a video produced by them as part of It Gets Better campaign. On the video, they speak to LGBT youth from their own experience overcoming homophobic prejudice.

Since the election (and the unjustifiable assassination) of Harvey Milk, new victories have been conquered, but always at the price of political clashes with ultraconservative politicians and religious fundamentalists. The most recent victory was the approval of gay marriage in several American states, the ban on the Armed Forces “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy – which guarantees that homosexual militaries will not be discriminated because of their sexuality –, and two speeches delivered by President Barack Obama – one to LGBT youth (LGBT youth), in which he encouraged them to firmly resist homophobic bullying (the cause of many suicide cases); and another one about the legitimacy of marriage between same-sex partners ( mariage between same-sex partners), sending an important message to the nation and to the world about the LGBTI1 population’s rights.

1. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transexual and Intersexual.

Brazil: It was a long way from State repression, under the military regime, and the civil liberties that have been conquered after the country’s democratization.

A repressive background  

homossexuais ditadura militar
Caption: Against the military intervention – Homosexual Committee for the 1st of May. 
(Note: Labour’s Day.)

The military coup and its regime took place in 1964, resulting in what has been acknowledged as ‘the years of lead.’ It took Brazil 15 years to actually witness a political opening.

In 1979, when activists and politicians were allowed to found new parties, the country began a timid walk towards democratization. Nonetheless, the first president elected democratically was José Sarney, whose office only began on March 15, 1985. Since then, all Brazilian presidents have been democratically elected, though two of them were removed by an impeachment process conducted by the National Congress (Fernando Collor and Dilma Rousseff), being replaced by their vice-presidents – Itamar Franco and Michel Temer, respectively.

As for Dilma Rousseff, elected in 2014 for her second mandate, the impeachment process is not over yet. She still awaits the final decision by the Senate as to whether she is really going to be impeached for good or if she will return to office. Meanwhile, her vice-president Michel Temer, considered by many as a scammer who stabbed her in the back, is in charge of the country.

homossexuais ditadura militar 2
Caption: Against the discrimination of homosexual workers.
Anyway, the point of this article is rather different from presidential issues. It is all about one question: How did Brazilian LGBT people manage to move from the silence of the indefensible to the celebration of sexual and gender diversity in the open?
That’s what I try to show in brief as you will find below:
A Brief History of the Brazilian LGBT Movement
(between 1978 and 1991)

são paulo - pride parade
São Paulo LGBT Pride Parade: the biggest of Brazil and one of the biggest of the world.

June 28th, 1969 has been considered the landmark as to the beginning of the world gay movement. The turmoil surrounding the Stonewall Inn with its subsequent riots have played a central role in getting lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transexuals out of the shadows to the center of the political and social agenda.

In Brazil, a lot was done just after that. For instance, in 1978 O Lampião (The Lamp) newspaper was founded. It became the primary communication vehicle for the homosexual community.

Lampião da Esquina – the first gay newspaper in Brazil.
In March, 1979, the first organized homosexual group appeared in São Paulo (the biggest city of Brazil). The group was named “Somos” (We Are). After that, new groups emerged in Rio; “O Grupo Gay da Bahia” (The Gay Group of Bahia) in Salvador; “Dialogay” in Sergipe; “Atobá” (Booby) and “Triângulo Rosa” (The Pink Triangle) in Rio de Janeiro; “Grupo Feminista-Lésbico” (The Feminist-Lesbian Group) of São Paulo; “Dignidade” (Dignity) in Curitiba; Grupo Gay do Amazonas (Gay Group of Amazon); “Grupo Lésbico da Bahia” (Lesbian Group of Bahia), and so on.

In 1980, São Paulo hosted the first Brazilian Encounter of Homosexuals. Four years later, in 1984, the second EBHO (Brazilian Encounter of Homosexuals) was held in the city of Salvador. Eleven years later (1995), the city of Curitiba welcomed the VIII Encounter of Brazilian Gays, Lesbians, and Transvestites. The term Transgender hadn’t caught on in Brazil yet. Fairly enough, even today, some transgender women would rather identify as transvestites than transgender or transexual.
In that year (1995), the Brazilian Homosexual Movement counted approximately 50 groups, spread all over the national territory, including four lesbian groups, fourtransvestite groups, and the recently founded Brazilian Group of Transexuals (in the city of Cuiabá), the first of that kind in South America. Transexuals were finally popping up in the LGBT scene.

Why did homosexuals form organized groups and still do?

A homosexual (nowadays, LGBT) works like a sort of union to defend the category, uniting forces to fight discrimination and put pressure on public representatives in order to guarantee LGBT rights and full citizenship.

Basically, the Brazilian Homosexual Movement used to have three objectives: fighting all expressions of homophobia (intolerance against homosexuals); divulging accurate, positive information on homosexuality; raising awareness of gay, lesbian, and transgender people as to the importance of getting organized and fight for full rights.

Currently, what used to be called “Homosexual Movement” has been renamed “LGBT Movement” as it represents more segments in terms of sexual and gender diversity. However, this acronym has proven insufficient. Many people would rather say LGBTQIA+ as it sounds more comprehensive, including queer, intersexual, and asexual too. The plus sign means there must be others that may not have been represented with the addition of those three letters, though.

Homosexual groups work through meetings in which their members and visitors informally discuss their communities daily problems, plan on actions to divulge their objectives ,and function as support groups to build self-esteem. They also broadcast information on strategies to prevent HIV-AIDS and other sexually transmitted illnesses.

The Brazilian Homosexual Movement — as it used to be named — is just over two decades old, but it has achieved important victories. One of those victories took place in 1985, when the Federal Council of Medicine declared that homosexualism (sic) would no longer be regarded as a “sexual deviation or disorder.”

Another victory took place in 1989, when a ban on discrimination for sexual orientation was included in the Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

Furthermore, in 1990, 73 municipalities included a ban that expressly forbade discrimination for sexual orientation in their organic laws and/or state constitutions.

In 1995, Brazil held the 17th Conference of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). Also, on January 31st, 1995, in the city of Curitiba, state of Paraná, the Brazilian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transvestite, and Transexual Association (ABGLT) was founded.

Among the objectives of ABGLT, as stated in their Letter of Principles, features the following:

  • to fight for the promotion of free sexual orientation, for freedom, for social justice, for democracy, plurality, and gender diversity.
ABGLT also keeps record of organizations which offer judicial and psychological support to the Brazilian LGBT population.
One of the most remarkable achievements for the LGBT population of Brazil was the legalization of civil unions between same-sex partners with full rights. The landmark decision was made by the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil in May, 2011.

On state level, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most inclusive to the LGBT population nowadays, thanks to the administration of Governor Sergio Cabral, who created the Superintendence of Individual, Collective and Diffused Rights (in Portuguese, SEASDH), whose man-in-charge is Cláudio Nascimento, one of the most active gay militants in Brazil, with extensive experience, having been the president of “Grupo Arco-Íris” (Rainbow Group) for several years.

Rainbow Group is located in Rio city and has been directed by Júlio Moreira since Nascimento was appointed to the SEASDH. One of his biggest achievements in the cabinet was the creation of Rio without Homophobia — a State program that provides legal advice and assistance, as well as psychological and social guidance to LGBT people for free.

There is also the LGBT Citizen Advice Bureau, which offers advice and support to the LGBT niche in the State of Rio de Janeiro.

Nonetheless, Brazilian people from all over the national territory can count on a hotline service by dialing 100 and choosing the LGBT option in the principal menu. This service is provided by the federal government.

The mobilization of civil organizations and the dialogue with both political representatives and governmental institutions had its highlight during the LGBT National Conference (I Conferência Nacional LGBT) in 2008 by President Lula.

The II LGBT National Conference (II Conferência Nacional LGBT) was held in 2011. Notwithstanding, the National Congress and the Federal Senate have refused to approve same-sex marriage and the bill that criminalizes homophobia in Brazil. The religious caucus (both Catholic and Evangelical) has done their best to hinder any attempt to advance such laws. The Supreme Court took a stand and recognized civil unions in 2011, which paved the way to the regulation of civil marriage at the notary’s office. Probably, criminalization of homophobia and transphobia will rely on the Supreme Court’s ruling too.

With the advent of the Internet, including sites, blogs, social networks, etc., the Brazilian LGBT Movement has taken new shapes. Moreover, their agenda cannot be built by NGOs or the so-called gay groups or LGBT organizations alone anymore. Internet-based discussions and demands by LGBT people, their allies and even their opponents became unavoidable when it comes to put together an agenda for LGBT rights or any other issue related to the community.

Devassos no Paraíso”, which could be called “Fornicators in Paradise” in English – the best account of homosexuality history in Brazil.

Some remarkable dates to the LGBT population of Brazil

1500: After disembarking in Brazil, the first Portuguese dominators were astonished at the Indians practice of the “abominable sin of sodomy.”

1547: Estêvão Redondo arrived at the Portuguese colony that would come to be called Brazil. He is considered the first exiled homosexual to have stepped in Brazil.

1821: Inquisition is extinct which led to the ban of death penalty for sodomites.

1830: The Brazilian Empire Penal Code goes into effect, excluding the crime of sodomy.

1945: The military coup takes place in Brazil. Repression and censorship takes over the country.  LGBT people are even more repressed.

1974: Political opening.

1978: The first homosexual newspaper is released — O Lampião.

1979: Foundation of “Somos” (We Are Group), the first group of LGBT rights defense in Brazil.

1980: Foundation of Grupo Gay da Bahia (Gay Group of Bahia), in Salvador, the oldest LGBT group working in Latin America.

1983: On August 19th, a group of lesbians who used to attend Ferro’s Bar, in São Paulo, rebelled against the discrimination suffered by the Feminist-Lesbian Action Group (Grupo de Ação Lésbico-Feminista – GALF) in the place. The bar occupation is considered the “Brazilian Stonewal.”

1985: The Federal Council of Medicine removes “homosexualism” (sic) from the Medical Classification of Diseases.

1986: João Silvério Trevisan releases his “Devassos no Paraíso,” which could be called “Fornicators in Paradise” in English. It has been acknowledged by many as the best historical account of homosexuality in Brazil from the colonial period to modern days.

1989: The Constitutions of the states of Mato Grosso and Sergipe explicitly forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation.

1993: The Festival Mix Brazil of Cinema and Video of Sexual Diversity is launched. The festival was produced and directed by André Fischer. He had been invited by the New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film Festival, which had decided to reach out other countries. Just after that, the Cinema Department of the Image and Sound Museum decided to hold a Brazilian edition of the festival, which was named I Festival Mix Brasil. The festival was inaugurated on October 5th, 1993. The festival still takes place every year.

1995: The Brazilian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transexual Association (ABGLT) is founded in Curitiba (ABLGT), the biggest entity to defend LGBT rights in Latin America.

1995: Deputy Marta Suplicy proposes the law-bill 1151 in favor of same-sex civil unions.

1995: First Gay Pride Parade in Copacabana.

1997: First Gay Pride Parade in São Paulo. Note: A total of 54 Gay Pride Parades were held in Brazil only in 2011, growing every year.

2000: INSS (Social Security National Institute) is ordered by the Federal Justice to grant the LGBT widow or widower with a pension for death at national level.

2004: Rio Grande do Sul state orders notary’s offices to register same-sex unions.

2006: Maria da Penha law goes into effect (Law number 11.340/06), the first federal law in the country to preview same-sex unions — lesbian, of course  — as “Maria da Penha” is a law passed to protect women from domestic violence.

2008: President Lula calls out the I LGBT National Conference.

2008: August 19th made history as one of the most important for the transexual community, as the National Healthy System (SUS) started to offer transexualization surgeries. Four hospitals managed by Brazilian public universities pioneered the service: one from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, another from the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the University of São Paulo and the Federal University of Goiás (center of Brazil).

2010: Jean Wyllys is elected federal Deputy, being the first openly gay Congressman and also publicly committed to the defense of LGBT rights in the Federal Congress. He was re-elected for a new mandate and has been awarded prizes by “The Congress on Focus” – an organization that keeps track of Deputies and Senators’ activities and performance in the Congress.

2010: The Brazilian Department of  Treasury (actually, it is a Ministry in Brazil), through an official ordinance, has extended the right to issuing joint statements regarding the income tax to same-sex partners.

2011: President Dilma Rousseff calls off the II LGBT National Conference.

2011: Mayor Eduardo Paes creates the LGBT Coordinating Body of Rio City and nominates Carlos Tufvesson, stylist and LGBT activist, as Coordinator. No other Mayor had ever been so inclusive toward LGBT people in Rio.

2011: The Federal Court equated same-sex stable unions to heterosexual ones. Several rights were immediately granted, such as pensions in face of separation, goods division, pension in face of a spouse’s death, etc. The Minister of the Armed Forces, Nelson Jobim, stated that, once the Armed Forces are subjected to the Constitution, all rights granted to heterosexual couples would be equally granted to homosexual couples as long as one of the partners remained as part of the Forces. The announcement was made on May 7th, 2011.

2012: São Paulo announces the inauguration of the Gay Museum of Latin America for 2013. The facility would be built inside a subway station (República Station). The Memory and Studies on Sexual Diversity Center of the State of São Paulo (Centro Cultural Memória e Estudos da Diversidade Sexual do Estado de São Paulo) is supposed to have 150 square meters and serve to the purpose of preserving the history of the Gay Movement of São Paulo. The first cities to hold similar museums were Berlin and San Francisco. Undoubtedly, it will be an important reference to those interested in LGBT history and culture as well as its relations with the biggest city in Brazil.

2012: Brazil sees an astonishing rise in crime against homosexuals. For the first time in history, the Federal Government of Brazil issues a report with official numbers on hate crime committed during 2011 against homosexuals. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the State to take action to prevent and respond to these human rights abuses and to ensure that LGTB people can effectively enjoy their right to a life free from discrimination and violence, including the adoption of policies and public campaigns as well as the amendments necessary to bring laws into line with the inter-American instruments on human rights. Activists with a long relationship with the LGBT Movement joined others who work independently plead OAB (Brazilian Attorneys’ Organization) to appeal to the UN to criminalize homophobia by federal law. The petition is translated into English, French, Italian, Spanish, and German.

Where is the Brazilian Gay Movement going to?
viviany beleboni
The two biggest demands by the Brazilian LGBT Movement and the LGBT community are same-sex marriage and criminalization of homophobia. Both are connected, as it is not possible to live out a marital relationship if the surrounding homophobia attacks and kills LGBT people at the slightest signal of affection between same-sex partners.

homophobia after pride
On the other hand, the mere preservation of life does not grant anyone with the freedom to love whomever. Both demands are legitimate and deserve full attention from legislators as well as constant pressure from society.

cases of homophobia
One thing is for certain, when citizenship wins, all society profits from it; the more fair and equalitarian a society is, the more prosperous and happy it tends to be.

Besides, granting rights to this segment of the population does not subtract rights from anyone. Therefore, there is no justification for the persecution that a few noisy opponents still promote, clinging onto absolutely groundless and injustifiable prejudice.

The LGBT Movement owes a lot to the NGOs that have acted in the political arena and needs to keep on supporting those organizations and counting on them.

However, the LGBT Movement is not restricted to NGOs. It obviously includes a network of initiatives by scholars, writers, artists, actors, cinema, and theater producers, businesspeople and entrepreneurs working with LGBT tourism. Furthermore, there are several publications, magazines, newspapers, books, singers, bands, religions currently named as inclusive, free-thinkers, atheists, politicians, sites, blogs, social network groups and countless others. All of them building biographies according to their affection, identities, and dreams. Each and every one must be aware of their role to unite forces for the promotion of full citizenship to all, regardless their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, sex, religion, etc. However, without the organizations that represent those demands, usually ignored by the government, we would be even further behind so as to achieving full citizenship.

This text was first issued on the official site of an organization that gathers humanistic atheists and agnostics in Brazil, which brings up the fact that when an LGBT person is an atheist, he/she usually suffers even more prejudice as besides homophobia, he/she also suffers due to being discriminated as an atheist in a society in which religion plays an important role.

Considering that atheists and agnostics also encounter prejudice, they share some common place with LGBT people. Nonetheless, it’s important to say that not every atheist or agnostic displays the same level of maturity and awareness regarding sexual and gender diversity. Thankfully, the number of atheists and agnostics joining forces with LGBT people, towards a more equalitarian society, seems to be growing.

June 28th is the LGBT Pride Day and must be celebrated, not only by LGBT people, but also by everyone who values human individuality within this collective named humanity–those who aspire to equal rights and also respect human diversity. And that’s why humanists can say: Hurray for human diversity, either sexual or gender! Hurray for June 28th – The LGBT Pride Day!

Sergio Viula (São Paulo Pride - 2016)

P.S.: Some information from the original post was updated for the purpose of this translation.


Prisoners tagged with the pink triangle to signal the reason for their imprisonment: homosexuality.

Derrick Shewin Bailey, Pioneering Gay Theologian

Harvey Milk, first openly gay City Counseler – São Francisco, Califórnia.

Luiz Mott, founder of the Gay Group of Bahia (GGB)

Deputy Jean Wyllys, first openly gay Congressman of Brazil

Toni Reis (on the left), president of ABGLT and his husband David Harrad celebrating their civil union.

Cláudio Nascimento Silva (Superintendent of SEASDH) and João Silva, married.

André Fischer – Executive of the Mix Brazil Cinema Festival

João Nery – the first transgender man of Brazil, author of “Viagem Solitária” (freely translated here as “Lonely Journey”)

Roberta Close – the most famous transgender woman of Brazil

Jane di Castro – she has sung the national anthemn for 15 years in the opening of the Gay Pride Parade in Copacabana (Rio).

Nany People – one of the most famous drag queens of Brazil.

Julio Moreira, Coordinator of the Rainbow Group (Rio).

Miriam Martinho, one of the first lesbian activists in Brazil.

Carlos Tufvesson (foreground), the man-in-charge of the LGBT Coordinating Body of Rio City, and his husband André Piva

German museum which recalls the victims of the holocaust and celebrates sexual diversity.

LGBT Pride Parade in São Paulo.

Speaking on LGBT citizenship

Take a look at this post 
about the ex-gay movement and its fallacies.


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