BRAZIL: Pastor Silas Malafaia sues Human Rights activist Toni Reis

In Portuguese here.

Pastor Silas Malafaia

Below, you'll find a note released by Dignity Group (Grupo Dignidade), which I've just translated into English, keeping it as faithful as I possibly could to the original.

However, I've been told that it is hard to understand the case. So, I decided to offer my readers a summary by myself. Those interested in the note itself will find it below.


Translated and summarized by Sergio Viula

Silas Malafaia is a pastor of the Assemblies of God in Brazil. His central office is in Rio de Janeiro. An openly opponent of the LGBT rights, Malafaia has been attacking the LGBT movement for quite a long time now. Not only has he preached against it, but also promoted actions against it through politicians faithful to him.

The Brazilian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transexual Association (ABGLT) has prosecuted him for promoting hatred speech against LGBT people, especially after the 15th LGBT Parade of São Paulo, when Malafaia said that gays should be beaten with a stick to learn a shame lesson (see his own words in the release below). He was allegedly defending the holiness of the Catholic saints (an Evangelical pastor? - tell me about it), whose images had been used as a publicity piece for HIV prevention, which was kind of a response to the Catholic preaching against condoms.

Malafaia countered that prosecution by taking action against Toni Reis, former president of ABGLT, who had taken the case to Justice first of all. The pastor is playing the victim of an alleged orchestrated campaign launched against him by the LGBT movement as if he had the right to harass LGBT people on nationwide open TV networks and get away with it.

Toni Reis has been notified by court to respond to Malafaia's accusations before the case proceeds. That's what he's going to do within he 10-day term assigned by Justice.

We, the LGBT community, come out to say that we trust Brazilian Justice and that we believe it will enhance the right to personal dignity as the Federal Constitution sets up.

Sergio Viula 



Pastor Silas Malafaia sues Human Rights activist Toni Reis

Translated from Portuguese to English
by Sergio Viula

Brazil - Curitiba, July 27,  2013.

After stating in interviews that he feels "repulsed by expressions of gay love" and literally saying, " I love homosexuals as I love bandits," controversial Pastor Silas Malafaia claims that his reputation was "immensely offended" by Toni Reis, ex-president of the Brazilian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transexual Association (ABGLT) and current Executive Director of Grupo Dignidade (Dignity Group).

The pastor's criminal complaint was submitted to the 16th Criminal Special Court of Rio de Janeiro, being denied at first. 

Malafaia claims he's been a victim of defamation and insult, requiring Toni and ABGLT to be held responsible and condemned by Justice for denouncing his homophobic statements. The pastor has appealed from the Court's negative decision, always claiming that he has the right to consider homosexuals as sinners.

Understand the case: "Beating with a stick"

One of the pieces of the 15th LGBT Parade of São Paulo

The 15th LGBT Pride Parade of São Paulo took place on June 26th, 2011. As usual, the Parade counted with an STD and HIV campaign. Well-humored, the slogan read: "No event the Saints will protect you: wear a condom." 

The publicity pieces included saints of popular devotion in sensual attitudes

The Catholic Church reacted. In an article issued two days after that, in the official jornal of the Archdiocese of São Paulo, Cardinal Odilo Scherer stated: “We felt sad when we saw saints' images being used with debauchery", but he went on with his message arguing that homosexuality is not an "option" and defending celibacy as the best way to avoid HIV infection.

On his program "Victory in Christ" (“Vitória em Cristo”) ( broadcast by Brazilian open TV on July 02, 2011), Pastor Silas Malafaia, not yet satisfied with the Catholic Church's reaction, went on and urged:

The guys on the Gay Parade ridiculed symbols of the Catholic Church and nobody says anything. The Catholic Church should have hit those guys with a stick, you know? (note: using a Brazilian slang) 'Beat those guys with a stick so they will learn. That's a shame.”

That snippet went viral on the social networks then - at a time when gay young men had been assaulted with fluorescent lamps on Paulista Ave (the main avenue of São Paulo). Lots of people felt outraged by Malafaia's statements, but we are afraid some have felt encouraged by his words to 'beat homosexuals', given the rising numbers of homophobic violence lately (as all reports about homophobia in Brazil have shown, including the Special Secretary of Human Rights', connected to the Presidency of Brazil).

ABGLT, represented by its president then, Toni Reis, felt compelled to react to those statements, addressing the Federal Prosecutor for the Citizens Rights (Ofício PR 236/2011). The letter questioned the use of Open TV, a state concession in Brazil, to disseminate aggression against homosexuals' manifestations, quoting Malafaia's statements and demanding actions.

Federal Public Ministry (MPF) against Malafaia

In response to that, on February, 2012, The Federal Public Ministry established Civil Inquiry number, requiring a formal disclaimer of the pastors' statements to be shown on Bandeirantes TV network (channel that broadcasts his program). 

In May, 2012, Federal Judge of the 24th Civil Court of São Paulo, Victorio Giuzio Neto, announced the extinction of the action taken by the Federal Ministry. 

The Regional Prosecutor of Citizens' Rights, Jefferson Aparecido Dias, appealed from the decision and the case was sent to the cabinet of Jude Cecilia Marcondes, where it awaits to be judged.

To support the appeal, the Prosecutor stated that:

[Defendant Silas Lima Malafaia's statements] have clear homophobic content, inciting violence against homosexuals, disrespecting their fundamental rights based on the dignity of the human person. Although there is worship freedom and freedom of speech, also previewed by Federal Constitution, the manifestation of thought cannot be used as a justification to the breaching of the fundamental rights of others.

This is the Federal Public Ministry's opinion, with which we fully agree. However, that was not the first time Silas Malafaia speaks out against homosexuals and, unfortunately, we are afraid it won't be the last time. He hides behind a supposed right to freedom of belief, but he forgets that his rights end when the rights of others begin.

Malafaia's criminal report: I am offended by gay activists.

Malafaia, preaching in one of his services broadcast on TV.

Discontented with the repercussion of his statements and cornered by Federal Justice, Malafaia decided to prosecute ABGLT and its former president, Toni Reis, for defamation and offence. His lawyer claims what he calls 'offence by the LGBT movement' gained "dimension due to the use of the world wide web of computers." 

The lawyer goes on: 

"An attitude that can only be regretted, groups and movements associated to the protection of the interests of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transexuals have been promoting a solid and oriented campaign against the offended [Silas Malafaia] who, unjustifiably and unreasonably have been assigned the position of an adversary." .

The initial petition was rejected by both the Public Ministry and Judge Arthur Narciso de Oliveira Neto, who considered the criminal report incomplete. Malafaia appealed from the decision and Justice notified Toni Reis, as former president of ABGLT, to submit a response.

Being summoned by the Federal Public Ministry, Malafaia saw his might to be threatened. Now he tries to hide behind the mantle of religion freedom, claiming that his statements are not homophobic or violent, but mere manifestations of his beliefs. Toni sees the pastor's attitudes as desperate and trusts Brazilian Justice.

The notification was delivered at Dignity Group's central office last Friday, July 26th, 2013, and we intend to use the ten-day term to prepare our defense. It's important to highlight that, diversely from what Malafaia claims, The Brazilian LGBT Movement does not fear debate. We will reply to the pastor in an orderly, pacific way - as we always have.

Toni Reis's family during the Diversity Parade in São Paulo

An activist for the Human Rights with international recognition, Toni Reis does not feel surprised by the pastor's attitude. Unfortunately, Brazil has been watching an intensification of intolerance against minorities from the evangelical fundamentalists, principally enhanced by pastors as Silas Malafaia and Marco Feliciano. They seem  to not desire anything else but might. Might that is manifested by the imposition of their beliefs in frontal conflict with the minorities' Constitutional Rights. Our fight will go on, either at Court, on the means of communication and social networks, and diversity will triumph over hatred. Our families - new and proud families - will keep on going out to the streets to celebrate diversity and that accepting love which never discriminates.

Dignity Group (Grupo Dignidade), sympathetic to the person of its Executive Director, and zealous in defense of Human Rights in Brazil, will attentively follow up the upcoming of this case. Follow us on the social networks to keep up with the its developments.

CURITIBA, July 27th, 2013.

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