The LGBTQ community in Brazil suffered its deadliest year on record in 2017. More than 300 queer or transgender people were slain as a result of targeted violence, as the local advocacy organization Grupo Gay de Bahia claims in a new report.
An estimated 387 people were murdered last year, which represents a 17 percent increase from the LGBTQ death toll in 2016. At the time, 331 victims were killed.
To put it into perspective, that’s one death every 22.6 hours.
The Grupo Gay de Bahia survey, which also includes the suicides of an additional 58 individuals, is only the latest to attest to an epidemic of anti-LGBTQ violence in the South American Country. The New York Times reported two years ago that nearly 1,600 had been killed as a result of “hate-motivated violence” since the beginning of 2012.
Most recently, a homeless gay man in Sao Paulo was burned to death in December and his body was found in a parking lot.
Local LGBTQ advocates say the uptick in violent hate crimes correlates with a surge of homophobic sentiment from politicians and religious leaders. Grupo Gay de Bahia President Luiz Mott says conservative forces in Brazil “[equate] LGBT people to animals” in an interview with The Guardian.
“TV programs linked to evangelical churches often compare homosexuality to the devil,” the publication notes.
But Brazil isn’t the only country to experience a record increases in attacks on its vulnerable queer and transgender populations: A recent report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that 52 people were murdered in 2017 because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, an 86 percent leap from a year prior.
A disproportionate number of those victims were people of color, trans women, or queer men: Seventy-one percent were non-white.
As in the case of Brazil, advocates cite the anti-LGBTQ climate spawned by Donald Trump’s election to the presidency as inspiring the dramatic increase in violent attacks against members of the community.
“We are releasing this report during a time when our communities are witnessing the few civil rights protections and policies being rolled back and discrimination being instituted into law,” the NCAVP claims in its report, “when media organizations and organizations working with survivors are receiving an unprecedented number of stories of hate fueled attacks.”
The U.K.-based advocacy group Stonewall claims that 41 percent of transgender people have been victims of a hate crime incident in the past year.
Across each of these countries, advocate groups note that these figures are likely the “tip of the iceberg.” Brazil’s Grupo Gay de Bahia notes that there’s no official data on anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, while Stonewall claims that few victims brought the incident to the attention of authorities. Seventy-nine percent did not report the attack to the police.
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