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Brazil's new bill criminalizes homophobia

The Senate's revisions to the penal code safeguard against gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination
A peaceful anti-homophobia demonstration in Brazil is one of several responses to reports of homophobia in the country.

A Brazilian Senate committee passed an anti-homophobia bill on Friday (25 May).

Just days after the human rights committee approved civil unions for same-sex couples, the committee is also revising the penal code to punish discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The current legislation only penalizes cases of discrimination against age, race, religion or national origin.

New protections for gays will be introduced through the bill, including allowing individuals to file discrimination claims that have occurred in the past.

The wording of the revised legislation also establishes sexuality-based discriminatory behaviors punishable by law:

  • Blocking access to a government office or private places
  • Refusing service in restaurants and hospitality venues
  • Impeding someone's career

The new bill will also include discrimination claims that occur online and in the media.

Chairman of the Superior Court of Justice, Gilson Dipp, said in an interview with Estadão: 'It's a breakthrough because we are expanding the list of discriminatory acts, fulfilling the Constitution and updating the existing law'.

Under the new law, offenders will receive sentences of two to five years in prison.

The Senate must approve the bill by 25 June in order for it to become law. The plans for civil unions also have to pass further hurdles before they become law.

This revision comes on the heels of other Latin American countries offering increased protection for their gay communities. Two days ago (27 June) Colombia granted gay couples the right to express affection publicly

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