Micro Rainbow celebrated 2015 IDAHOT by participating in the XII LGBT Seminar from Brazil’s National Congress. At this seminar we pre-launched the Portuguese version of our study LGBT people living in poverty in Rio de Janeiro. This was originally launched in English in 2014 at the Human Rights World Pride Conference in Toronto, Canada.
The XII LGBT Seminar at Brazil’s National Congress took place on the 20th and the 21st of May in the capital Brasilia with the theme “Empathy: The Real Evolution.” The event, spearheaded by congressman and LGBT rights advocate Jean Wyllys, generated controversy in the Congress weeks before it was held. This is because its ultra conservative president, Eduardo Cunha, tried to prohibit promotional banners and flyers of the event just because they featured a photo (on the right) of the renowned Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury receiving a kiss on the cheek from her wife. The prohibition of the photo came as no surprise given the increasing wave of opposition to LGBT (and other human rights) issues from right-wing and evangelical parties of the Congress.
As a protest to this failed attempt to ban the event, the singer Daniela Mercury showed up at the opening ceremony and shared tender kisses with her wife in front of the over-crowded auditorium. Their kisses received a standing ovation from the supportive audience made up of parliamentarians, government officials, activists and students and stole the headlines of several Brazilian newspapers and websites on the following day. Their kiss also signalled to the Congress and the wider Brazilian society that the LGBT population will stand against homophobia and keep fighting for improvement and protection of their human rights.
This scenario reinforced the importance of galvanizing support to the Brazilian LGBT community. In this sense, the earlier announcement of our 3-year project in Rio de Janeiro to alleviate the situation of poverty of LGBT people and the pre-launch of Micro Rainbow’s report at the Congress could not have come at a better time. In times like these, when the general LGBT community face violence and political hostility in Brazil, those living in poverty are at even greater risk of having their basic citizenship rights denied. Micro Rainbow thus hopes to fight homophobia and trans-phobia through social and economic empowerment of LGBT people, enabling them to open their own businesses and access the labour market. Our work in other parts of the world has shown that financial independence increases people’s self-esteem and life expectancy and ultimately changes negative social attitudes towards the LGBT population.
We would like to thank the International Labour Organization and the United Nations offices in Brazil for putting their trust in our work and printing the report. A special thank you goes to the generous support of Thais Faria (ILO), Angela Pires (UN) and Jean Wyllys (PSOL), who have been doing an incredible job to advance LGBT rights in Brazil.
Below are some photos of our visit to the UN office in Brasilia, where we met with a series of UN agencies, including UNHCHR, ILO, UNAIDS and UNDP and also with the guys from the famous Brazilian Youtube channel “Poe Na Roda”, which uses humoristic and comic sketches to break stigmas and prejudice. In partnership with the UN, they released a video last year exploring the barriers the LGBT people face in the labour market. We are hoping to partner with them to produce a video addressing the issues that LGBT people living in poverty face and breaking the gay affluence myth. Stay tuned!
Translated from Portuguese by Anais Vibranovski