Following a Brazilian congressional committee's recent approval of a bill that would remove a 1999 ban on treating homosexuality, queer activists joined ongoing protests against economic conditions, corruption and a gay-cure bill in the South American country.
The bill will be subject to debate in other committees before it heads to the full chamber and Senate for a vote.
Queer advocacy groups and their allies issued a call to protesters to bring attention to the measure in nationwide demonstrations demanding change and a focus on pressing issues like transportation, high taxes and high expenditure on World Cup preparations.
In cities like São Paulo, Brasilia, Rio and João Pessoa in northeastern Brazil, protesters answered the call, denouncing the "Cura Gay" bill as misuse of public funds and an attack on the "secular character of the state," a Gay Star News (GSN) report says.
In João Pessoa, protester Elton Apollo is quoted as saying he is worried about the "increasingly powerful" evangelical lobby in Congress, representing a "growing homophobic movement which many do not want to speak of."
Among those spearheading the bill's progress is the controversial head of Brazil's congressional committee for human rights, Marco Feliciano of the Social Christian Party, as well as legislator João Campos, described as a member of the lower house's evangelical block, who contends the measure would permit "a person over 18 years of age, responsible for his actions, who is homosexual and wants to reorient his sexuality, can be attended by a psychologist.”
Queer rights and anti-racism advocates had taken to the streets of major Brazilian cities to express their opposition to Feliciano's electionas human rights committee chair.
According to the site Global Voices, Feliciano is the head of the Assembléia de Deus church and an "outspoken opponent of gay marriage and abortion." The site also notes that Feliciano is under two Supreme Federal Court investigations – "one for embezzlement and the other for homophobic behaviour." Feliciano reportedly tweeted that "the putridity of the homosexual feelings leads to hate, crime, rejection” in response to the investigation. He has denied he is homophobic or racist, but a number of media reports indicate he has a record of remarks attacking the gay community and demonizing African people.
Among the protesters were a lesbian couple and their child who held up a banner that read, "My mums don't need cure! #Feliciano you don't represent my family." GSN reports that two muscled, barechested men held up another sign that said, "Feliciano, look at what you're missing."
Check out a Euro News video report.
Brazil's attempt to revive gay-cure therapy has come in the midst of an announcement by the head of leading ex-gay ministry Exodus International that the organization is closing down after claiming for more than 30 years that people could rid themselves of homosexuality through prayer and therapy.
"We’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” president Alan Chambers said. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”