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    November 24, 2006

    Leaving America behind

    Posted by: Chris

    The "land of the free" fell another step behind the largest Roman Catholic country in the world on Wednesday when Brazil's lower house passed a law adding gender, sexual orientation and gender identity to the country's hate crime law, which currently covers race, color, ethnicity and religion. (My description of this good news comes with the caveat that I did my best to translate it from Portuguese.)

    Up till now, most of the gay rights advances in Brazil have been from judicial rulings, making the legislative action this week all the more important. The legislative success follows closely on the heels of a ruling by a judge in São Paulo granting a second-parent adoption to the partner of a gay father. Brazil already recognizes a type of common law marriage for gay couples, and extends to them immigration rights, among other benefits.

    And the country's AIDS prevention efforts have been recognized as groundbreaking by most international public health groups, though the U.S. withdrew $40 million in funding because the country's safe-sex campaign to prostitutes was insufficiently condemnatory.

    As the Democrats take full control of the U.S. Congress for the first time in more than a decade, the minimum we should expect is passage of a hate crime law and employment non-discrimination, both backed by overwhelming majorities of the American public. The global gay rights movement has made, and is making, great strides toward basic equality. It's long past time for the U.S. to do the same.



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    1. andoni on Nov 25, 2006 8:22:07 AM:

      Maybe overwhelmingly Catholic countries such as Brazil and Spain are making so much progress in the gay rights arena because the population has had first hand knowledge of the Church’s counter-intelligent and suffocating positions for so many years that it has figured out how ridiculous and non productive the Vatican position is on these and other matters. Possibly what we are seeing now is an enlightened backlash from a population that was suffocated for so long and has awakened to reality.

      How far behind are the U.S. Catholic and Evangelical followers to independent thinking? Hopefully, not too far.

      I believe one way to accelerate a break from the religious rights’ hypnosis in the US is to publicize what their complete platform really is. That would be: anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-stem cell research, and anti-contraception. Whenever we talk about the religious right’s anti-gay positions, we immediately have to make sure we expose their anti-contraception positions in the same breath. The public has to know that these are all linked. Empower the theocons in one area and they will get more control in the other area as well.

      If the media does its work to publicize the religious right’s complete agenda every time gay rights comes up, the US population may wake up sooner rather than later.

    1. Queer Beacon on Nov 25, 2006 1:36:54 PM:

      What an insightful comment, Andoni.

      I agree with you that that may be the reason behind the advances in both Spain and Brazil.

      The changes in Brazil are certainly welcome, but we still have a lot to do. A lot. It is not easy being out in Brazil...

    1. Citizen Crain on Nov 25, 2006 2:13:07 PM:

      I agree with my Brazilian friend Queer Beacon. I've also tried to report on some of the problems with being gay in Brazil. But it's so encouraging to see the government moving toward legal equality for gays. It's no assurance for better treatment by society in general, but it's such an important step in that direction.

      Ironically, Brazilian gays are trailing their own government in some respect. I have so many gay friends in Brazil who are out to friends but remain in the closet with family and at work. It's a bit of a farce, of course, for any attractive 30 or 40-something man to never have a girlfriend without raising suspicion. But by staying in the closet, as we all know so well, they signal that being gay is something to be ashamed of and they rob the gay movement there of a huge number of likely allies.

    1. Hunter on Nov 26, 2006 7:40:27 AM:

      On the bright side, as we learned in the States with the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, if the legislatures whill enact it into law, attitudes will change. Slowly, perhaps, but they will.

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