BRASILIA, Brazil — A Brazilian lawmaker plans to defy her government orders and call for a vote on a bill that would prohibit discrimination or inciting violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.The bill calls for up to three years in prison for anyone found guilty of such offenses.
Senator Ana Rita, a member of the ruling Labor Party (PT), is expected to call for the vote on Wednesday, despite explicit instructions by Ideli Salvatti, Brazil’s Minister of Institutional Relations, not to initiate a vote until well after the next year’s presidential election.
According to reports, Salvatti issued the instruction last week under the instruction of President Dilma Rousseff.
The country’s powerful evangelical lobby warned that any moves to vote for the bill will be penalized by their crucial voting block, and thus damage the chances of the President to be re-elected.
“Nearly half of all the yearly recorded LGBT murders around the world occur in Brazil,” said Luiz Henrique Coletto, Vice President of the Secular Humanist League of Brazil (LiHS) and an independent LGBT activist, in a statement to LGBTQ Nation.
According to the campaign group Grupo Gay da Bahia, 44 percent of the world’s anti-LGBT violence occurs in Brazil, with one LGBT person murdered ever 21 hours.
This year alone, 292 LGBT people have been murdered in Brazil, while 2012 saw a 21 percent increase in murders over 2011.
“The bill has been stalled for 12 years, during which over 2,000 LGBT people have been murdered,” said Coletto. “The government is trying to promote the country ahead of the World Cup and the Olympics, but stalls a law that would protect its own citizens and visitors.”
Thousands of Brazilian LGBT rights campaigners are expected protest on Tuesday in São Paulo, and hundreds are expected to attend the vote in Brasilia on Wednesday.
A petition has been organized by the U.S.-based activist group AllOut to ask Brazilian lawmakers and the President to vote for the law on Wednesday.
“The anti-discrimination law will send a powerful message that gays, lesbians, bisexual and trans people in Brazil are fully protected by Brazilian law,” Andre Banks, Executive Director of All Out, told LGBTQ Nation.
“The Brazilian Congress cannot continue to delay a discussion that is so critical for the life and safety of millions of Brazilians,” said Banks.