On Sunday, November 18th, 2012, half a million people in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, celebrated gay pride. This was the 17th annual LGBT parade in Rio de Janeiro, and LGBT people and supporters proudly carried a rainbow flag along Copacabana beach.
The parade 1.3-mile parade featured 15 floats, complete with drag queens, music, and costumes. It marked the beginning of an entire week of festivities for the LGBT community, which spends most of the year trying to stay below the radar.
Last year alone, 266 people were killed in Brazil because of their sexual orientation. “The LGBT community spends most of the year in Brazil hiding, deprived of many of their rights,” said Julio Moreira, president of Grupo Arco-Iris (Rainbow Group). Arco-Iris was officially founded in May of 1993 to offer support for LGBT people in Brazil as well as to educate the public and fight against homophobia.
The number of people speaking out against discrimination of LGBT people has increased in Brazil recently, though. A bill which would outlaw discrimination of LGBT people is currently on its way to be voted on, and with any luck, passed.
The LGBT community had previously been protected under a general anti-discrimination law, but that law was annulled by the attorney general in early October. The general cited the law for being implemented in an unconstitutional way, stating that any law involving public service (like protections) must be voted on in the state’s assembly by the executive branch of Rio’s government.
One day after the annulment, governer Sérgio Cabral—head of the executive branch—sent an identical draft of the law to be voted on in the state’s assembly. And while the haste is appreciated, until the law is passed into effect, LGBT people in Rio have no legal protections against discrimination.
Nonetheless, the LGBT community made quite the showing at this year’s parade, celebrating their individuality and pride. The crowd addressed Brazil’s struggle with homophobia head on, fighting to regain their basic rights.