Brazil's Supreme Court rules 'homophobic hate speech' punishable by prison term

On Tuesday, Brazil's Supreme Federal Court handed down a nearly unanimous ruling deeming homophobia punishable on the same level as racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. 

Yahoo News reports, as a result, those who are found guilty of discriminating against members of the LGBTQ community could face jail time. 

According to Barron's, the court ruled in 2019 that homophobia was a crime, but at the time it only applied to acts committed against the LGBTQ community at large. Tuesday's 9-1 ruling changed the definition of the crime to also include sentiments directed at individuals. Justice Edson Fachin referred to the update as a "constitutional imperative."

Protections against discrimination are enshrined in the Brazilian constitution and penal code. "Offending the dignity or decorum" of someone based on their "race, color, ethnicity, religion, origin, or condition of elderly or disabled" is punishable by one to three years in prison and a fine. Hateful speech aimed at those who are HIV-positive has also been made a crime.

The case was brought by the Brazilian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Travesti, Transgender, and Intersex Association, known as ABGLT. The group has long advocated for an end to homophobia in the country, organizing marches, supporting projects, and working with the government.

In 2004, ABGLT helped design the federal government's "Brazil Without Homophobia Program," and has since taken its cause to the National Congress and lower ministries.

The group was also largely responsible for pushing "the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the school curriculum, as well as the prohibition of teaching materials that contain prejudice (of all kinds, not only to the LGBT) in all national territory." It currently holds a seat in the National Education Forum.

Brazil has long been one of the most dangerous places for members of the LGBTQ community. In 2022 alone, 228 people who identified as such were murdered.

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