SAO PAULO, Brazil — Members of Brazil’s LGBT community held vigil Friday in honor of a gay Brazilian teen who was tortured and brutally murdered, one of at least five reported murders targeting LGBT people in Brazil over the past week.
Kaique Augusto Batista dos Santos, 16, disappeared last week after leaving a gay club in the heart of Sao Paulo’s gay scene.
His disfigured body was first discovered Jan. 11, and appeared to have suffered severe head wounds and with an iron spike piercing one of his legs, yet police originally reported his death as an “apparent suicide.”
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Officials later reported that dos Santos’ teeth had been pulled out, likely while he was still alive, that he was discovered with a iron spike piercing one of his legs, and that it appeared he had been kicked to death.
Family and friends believe dos Santos was targeted because of his sexual orientation, and because there was no evidence that robbery was a motive.
News of dos Santos’ murder, first reported on Thursday, has shocked Brazil, and comes as the Brazilian media reported four additional murders within the LGBT community — three gay men and a transgender women.
The body of Antonio Goncalves Pereira was found Wednesday on a dirt road outside the city of Uberlandia with his hands tied behind his back. His body reflected signs of torture, with lacerations in his hands, abdomen, and the back of his head and neck. Police speculate he was picked up on a “gay date” and then murdered.
The body of Sebastiao Fleuri, an adolescent, was found dumped on a dirt road near Itaberaí, also on Wednesday. Police said they are holding a suspect but not providing any additional details at this time.
Jullivan Pinheiro Castelo Branco, a baker from Manaus, was found in his home on Thursday with multiple stab wounds on his back; he was last seen alive two days earlier.
Local sources tell LGBTQ Nation that all three victims are gay, but were not aware if sexual orientation was a factor in their murders.
On Tuesday, Jan. 14, a 50-year-old transgender woman who identified as Toni Gretchen from the district of São Benedito in Uberaba, was shot in the head at close range; police said she appears to have known the assailant.
On Friday, members Brazil’s LGBT community held a vigil to honor dos Santos and other victims of anti-LGBT violence, marching from Largo do Arrouche – where the gay club is located — to the location where dos Santos’s body was found.
Participants lit hundreds of candles and demanded justice and immediate government action to legislate a law against anti-LGBT hate crimes, after recent attempt at legislation was defeated in Brazil’s Senate last month.
Professor Luiz Mott, of Grupo Gay do Bahia, stated there have been at least 18 documented cases of LGBT murders since the start of 2014, not including two of the most recently reported cases.
“How many dead does Brazil need for it to react against homophobia?” demanded openly gay lawmaker Jean Wyllys.
Sergio Viula, a Brazilian LGBT rights advocate and blogger, told LGBTQ Nation that “since many cases aren’t even recorded as murders, and the sexuality of the victims is not noted, the number cited is probably a conservative under estimate.”
“Brazil’s evangelical leaders are employing strategies used by the US right-wing evangelical lobby to fuel anti-gay hate and prevent any legislation against hate-crimes, with the silent support of our government,” Luiz Henrique Coletto, Vice President of the Secular Humanist League of Brazil (LiHS), told LGBTQ Nation.
“Brazil fails to protect its own LGBT citizens, let alone does not provide basic protections for visitors to the World Cup and Olympics games scheduled to take place here,” he said. “We need that international human rights organizations pressurize Brazil to legislate laws that punish hate crimes and protect LGBT people in our country.”