Reducing the vulnerabilities of LGBT in Brazil, through advocacy in the legislative branch
Issues: Advocating for laws to promote the citizenship of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons (GLBT) in Brazil, as a means of reducing stigma and discrimination, thus contributing towards reduced vulnerabilities to HIV infection.
Description: Gay and bisexual men and transgendered males represent 21% of total reported AIDS cases (1980- 2006). In 2004 AIDS incidence in this category was 226.5/100,000, being 11 times higher than in the general population. This evident elevated vulnerability arises in part from social exclusion, stigma and discrimination. Since 2004, ABGLT – Brazilian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Association, has been advocating in the National Congress for the approval of a federal law to criminalize discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill is currently being reviewed by the Senate and the visibility surrounding it in the media has brought this issue to the forefront. ABGLT has held empowerment workshops for local GLBT leaders to mobilize support and publicize the law at state level. An important product of this has been the formation of municipal and state Parliamentary Fronts for GLBT Citizenship, promoting awareness-raising and advocacy on GLBT issues at local level. In the National Congress 226 (38%) parliamentarians are now members of the Parliamentary Front for GLBT Citizenship. ABGLT has also collaborated with the National AIDS Programme in increasing membership of the Parliamentary Front on HIV/AIDS in the National Congress.
Lessons learned: Advocacy on sensitive issues produces more positive results than confrontation. Specific legislation on GLBT issues helps to contribute towards increased respect for sexual diversity, thus reducing stigma and discrimination. Visibility is essential for successful advocacy. The empowerment of affected leaders can create a snowball advocacy effect at state and municipal level.
Next steps: Continue advocating in the National Congress for the approval of the anti-discrimination law. Continue empowering leaders.
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