Friday, November 16, 2012

History in the Making: Brazil

Hi there! It’s Adam. I’m currently in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, conducting research for a Global Rights report on the rights of Afro-Brazilian transgender women. Last week, I got to witness history in the making…

The First National Black LGBT Conference
For the first time ever, the Brazilian government officially sponsored a gathering of Afro-LGBT activists in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.  The event was deemed the First National Black LGBT Conference. Activists from diverse parts of the country with deeply unique experiences, including Global Rights’ partner organization, the Rede Afro LGBT (Black LGBT Network), joined together to enter discussions and advocate with the federal government needed to take action to protect and promote their rights.

Afro-trans women were embraced and honored for their outstanding work as community advocates and leaders in the Afro-Brazilian LGBT community. Afro-trans women are constantly threatened by hate crimes, police abuse, economic exclusion and limited access to public health and educational services. Broadly excluded from society, these fearless Afro-trans women enter battles every single day, simply to be treated as equals that so many of us take for granted.

The facts don’t lie:

Despite these challenges, those attending the conference, like so many of the dedicated activists I have met here in Brazil, never despair.

Conference Participants
Faced with the intersecting challenges of homophobia and racism in a culture that often seeks to deny racism’s existence and ignores homophobia, these men and women are relentless in their struggle to combat discrimination and work toward creating a more inclusive and accepting society. They are an inspiration to me and so many others, and should be celebrated for their selfless dedication to improving the lives of others.

Adam Frankel
*A popular Afro-Brazilian spiritual term meaning force or energy.

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