efe-epaRio de Janeiro

Brazil has a reputation for being laid back and tolerant about sexual diversity, an image in stark contrast with statistics showing that one person of the LGBT collective dies or commits suicide in this country every day.

The data reveal that in Brazil, more crimes are committed against this group than anywhere else in the world, according to the NGO Grupo Gay, which recently reported that homicides of lesbians, gays, transsexuals and bisexuals (LGBT) went from 343 in 2016 to 445 in 2017.

This reality contrasts with Brazil's image of being tolerant of all types of sexuality that is particularly projected during Carnival and by the message sent by the largest Gay Pride march in the world, which is held in Sao Paulo every year.

Amanda Castro, an activist who runs the social networks of "Tem Local," a virtual platform launched in 2015 so that people who have suffered cases of "LGBTphobia" can post their accounts of these episodes, told EFE that the image of tolerance projected by Brazil during Carnival is "false."

"It's a lie!" she exclaimed. "Women, blacks, LGBT people all suffer in a similar way because of the same aggressors: fathers of families, whites, heterosexuals and the middle class, who are motivated by political, ideological or religious thinking, or by the beliefs of a failed and antiquated society," Castro said.

The problem has been insistently denounced by civil organizations and was even reported in the latest edition of Rolling Stone, which featured a cover story about Brazilian singer and drag queen Pablo Vittar, and which stood up for that collective with the title: "A Drag Queen in the Country that Most Kills LGBTs in the World: That Says Everything."

Social policies in recent years in favor of equality, like the legalization of gay marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples, have not ended the prejudice.

The increasing influence of evangelical churches and their presence in politics, as in the case of Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella, leader of an evangelical group that is very critical of the supposed lasciviousness of Carnival, is another of the factors that, according to the activist, feeds prejudice.

"Politics and religion remain aligned in an extremely negative way, provoking the persecution of the LGBT population as if we were Brazil's only social problem," Castro said.

By Andrea Usero