Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Global Rights Releases New Report on Human Rights Abuses of Afro-Brazilian Trans Women

An LGBT person was murdered every 26 hours in Brazil in 2012.

Among the more than 300 murders , more than half were trans women.  Moreover, from January 2008 to December 2011, there were 826 reported murders of trans persons worldwide, and 426 of them occurred in Brazil. In 2013, there have already been 251 deaths of LGBT persons in Brazil, which include trans women.

Against this backdrop of unspeakable violence, Global Rights, in close partnership with Brazilian trans activists, professors, and local human rights organizations, produced the first-ever comprehensive report on human rights violations against Afro-descendant trans women in Brazil, who suffer discrimination for being trans and black. Global Rights and our partners presented the report October 29 to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is part of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The report, information for which was collected from July 2012 to March 2013, revealed that Afro-descendant trans women in Brazil experience chronic human rights violations including racial discrimination, transphobic and racial violence, and arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings by police officers and individuals. Furthermore, they receive inadequate access to education, employment and healthcare because of racial and gender-identity biases. Estimates are that 90 percent of trans women in Brazil are functionally illiterate, and many Afro-descendant trans women find sex work as their only way to earn money.

“Racism is a thing that traverses all strata of society…A person already grows up knowing that black is ugly, that black smells, and black is not worth anything…and for black transsexuals, it would be an even greater problem. And if she doesn't have the looks of a woman, the problem, it would be even greater because she causes nausea in people,”

said Alessandra Ramos, a coordinator for Grupo Pela Vidda Rio de Janeiro, a group that was founded in 1989 to support people in Brazil with HIV and AIDS.

Currently in Brazil, there is no law that specifically prohibits acts of discrimination or violence committed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender. The Brazilian Constitution, however, does outlaw racial discrimination and protects the cultural and religious rights of ethnic minorities, including Afro-Brazilians. In addition, Brazil established in 2010 the National Council for Combating Discrimination, a special council formed within Brazil’s human rights commission to combat discrimination and promote and defend the rights of LGBT persons.

Brazil also permits same-sex marriage. The country’s National Court of Justice ruled on May 14 that marriage licenses cannot be denied to same-sex couples. However, like in Argentina, which also has progressive laws for LGBT persons—including a law that allows individuals to change their gender identity on official documents—conservative societal attitudes toward LGBT persons often clash with the progressive spirit of the law, particularly in rural areas.

Furthermore, the fact the Afro-descendant LGBTI movement in Brazil is relatively small, unorganized and nascent adds to the difficulty of protecting the rights for the community. The movement lacks funding, public support and resources, and it does not receive enough support from the government or other civil society organizations to compensate for its lack of financial and public support.

Global Rights views this report as the first step in a multi-step process. After having identified key issues facing Afro-descendant trans women in Brazil, Global Rights will now work to build and train the fledgling movement to more effectively advocate for and protect its marginalized community. Specifically, we will work to foster more collaboration between Afro-descendant trans women and other Brazilian human rights groups, like those that advocate for women, Afro-descendants and LGBT persons. We will also work with local organizations to document human rights violations and then present our findings to human rights commissions at the state, regional and international levels.

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