The Brazilian fight for human rights

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By, Rose Castilho

Brazil is known worldwide as the country of the Carnival. This means: pretty women half naked dancing samba. We, the Brazilians, all know that most of the tourists that usually come to our land think of us as a place where “everything can be done.”

However, since March 7, this image has changed a little. On that day, Congressman Marco Feliciano, an evangelical pastor, was elected for president of the Commission of the Human Rights and Minorities of the lower house of Brazil’s Congress.

Since that day, Brazilian LGBT’s have entered a march for the freedom of speech. The freedom of being what we truly are. The freedom to love. Meanwhile, the most conservative Christians march the other way, fighting for the heterosexual family, which they seem to think is the only real family. 

It is important to say that this is not a religious “war” (although Marco Feliciano and his allies insist on spreading word otherwise). The critical issue is not the fact that the new President of the Commission is religious or even a pastor, but the fact that what he calls “freedom of speech” is used against the rights of a group of people who, unfortunately, are not totally accepted. 

We cannot accept a president who uses his religion to guide his political actions. How can a man who is against gay rights be the president of a commission that was created to defend those rights? It is contradictory, to say the least.

The first reaction by LGBT proponents in opposition of Feliciano’s appointment was to leave the meeting in which he was elected. One of those present said: “This is no longer a Commission of the Human Rights.” 

The Brazilians took to the streets demanding Feliciano’s resignation. In some sort of way, we can actually thank the pastor for leading people to this state of commotion. Even if it hasn’t yet yielded any practical effect.

Feliciano himself did not hesitate to say he was elected due to an alliance between parties. From this point of view, is the alliance more important than the desire of the people? Where is the so called democracy in which we believe to be the conducting wire of modern politics?

The bright side of the story? We can say that people have come together to fight for a cause that isn’t just about the LGBT community. It also involves the rights of women and African descendants. It involves the fight of those who believes in equality and respect.

Now, all we can do is not give up, and hope for a better future for Brazilian minorities.

Understanding the facts

March 4th – Evangelical pastor Marco Feliciano is pegged as the next possible president of the Commission of the Human Rights and Minorities of Brazilian’s lower house. The announcement led to protests on online social networks.

March 7th – Feliciano was elected with 11 votes out of 18. The meeting was behind closed doors to avoid protests.

March 9th – The first protests occur. Although the media and the police spread the information that only 600 people took to the streets, the activists say that there were more than a thousand. 

March 13th – Feliciano faces protests at the first meeting of the commission. The pastor asked for a vote of trust.

March 18th – Marco Feliciano publishes a video on his Twitter in which he offends LGBT people by associating LGBT activism with pedophilia and macabre rituals.

March 20th – Commission’s second meeting is suspended due to protests. Since this day, more protests have occurred calling for Feliciano’s resignation and Feliciano’s opposition announced, along with human rights groups, a new parliamentary front of human rights defense.

March 29th – Feliciano said that before him, the Commission was a cult dominated by Satan.

April 3rd – Commission approves application to hold closed meetings, barring the public from attendance to avoid more protests.

April 17th – After meeting for over an hour, congressmen Jean Wyllys, Domingos Dutra, Érika Kokay, Luiza Erundina and Chico Alencar decided to resign their chairs at the Commission of the Human Rights and Minorities. They want to gather forces for the new parliamentary front of human rights defense.

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