What’s The Truth About Homosexuality in Brazil?
Acceptance of homosexuality in Brazil has been a hot topic for a while now. Having worked in immigration law, I have handled many cases where Brazilians were applying for asylum based on their fear to return to their home country when their sexual orientation is known. (Asylum is the process by which you can become a U.S. citizen by proving that returning to your home country will result in you being killed or tortured.) Having reviewed many such cases, I often debated with myself whether my gay Brazilian clients actually had a legitimate claim to a case for asylum. I have concluded that everything really depends. If you look at the picture above of the world-famous gay pride parade of São Paulo, one may see it as idiotic for the American government to believe that an openly homosexual individual from Brazil could actually claim to fear torture and murder so much so much that he would be willing to never return to Brazil (one of the consequences of becoming a U.S. citizen through asylum) in order to avoid harm or persecution. I mean, just look at that crowd on a huge main street in São Paulo in broad daylight, a gigantic rainbow flag billowing in the wind… But pictures like these can be deceiving of the underlying truth, which is that homosexuality is widely untolerated and even persecuted in Brazil. While homosexuality may be tolerated, even celebrated in liberal pockets of the largest, most modern cities of Brazil, rural small-town life is a whole different story. The difference between small-town interior Brazil and the big cities is remarkable, to go from the capital of Rio de Janeiro to a small town in Minas Gerais can feel like time traveling backwards about 50 years. Many of my gay clients who were applying for immigration relief through asylum were from small towns such as these, and had either a history of being routinely beaten and humiliated or have had their lives threatened previously.
São Paulo, with an enormous gay population (Brazilians who come from small cities and who are gay tend to gravitate there), is the city where being openly gay is the most tolerated and even accepted. The gay pride parade of São Paulo is the largest of its kind on the planet (here is the link if you would like to read more: http://www.gaypridebrazil.org/sao-paulo/). And this recent ruling by a São Paulo judge is definitely a huge step for the “Orgulho Gay” movement in Brazil….
Society News: Brazil’s First Gay Marriage Approved By São Paulo Judge
SAO PAULO (AP) — A Brazilian state judge on Monday approved what the court said is the nation’s first gay marriage.
Sao Paulo state Judge Fernando Henrique Pinto ruled two men could convert their civil union into a full marriage. Brazil’s Supreme Court cleared the way in May for the recognition of same-sex civil unions, but stopped short of approving gay marriages.
A court statement said Pinto made the decision based on the top court’s ruling on civil unions and on Brazil’s constitution, which outlines how a civil union can be converted into a legal marriage.
Benjamin Polastri, a spokesman with the Sao Paulo state Attorney General’s Office, said it was not immediately clear if the ruling set a strong national precedent. Polastri also said the just-approved gay marriage was the first for South America’s biggest nation.
Jose Luiz Bednarski, a lawyer for the Sao Paulo state attorney general, said in an opinion presented to Pinto that the marriage was legal.
“The federal constitution establishes as a fundamental objective of the Federal Republic of Brazil to promote the good of everyone without bias of gender or any other form of discrimination,” Bednarski wrote. “This certainly includes the choice or sexual orientation of a person.”
In the Brazilian legal system, judges often seek the opinion of a state or federal attorney general about a case…
Gay and Seeking Asylum
And Here’s a NYT article about a man named Romulo Castro, who sought asylum in the United States based on his sexual orientation. There is a video which is very interesting. Take a look…
Gays Seeking Asylum in U.S. Encounter a New Hurdle
Romulo Castro considered attending his asylum interview in Rosedale, Queens, dressed as Fidela Castro, a towering drag queen in six-inch stilettos, a bright green poodle skirt and a mane of strawberry blond hair. In the end, Mr. Castro, 34, opted for what he described as understatement: pink eye shadow, a bright pink V-neck shirt and intermittent outbursts of tears.
After years of trying to conceal his sexual orientation back home in Brazil (where Fidela never made an appearance), Mr. Castro had been advised by his immigration lawyer that flaunting it was now his best weapon against deportation. (Read More…)