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Homophobic in Brazil? You may soon be on wrong side of law

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – Progress on the queer rights front in Latin America got another boost May 25 when a Brazilian senate committee gave the thumbs-up to an anti-homophobia bill that could see discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity made punishable by law.

A Gay Star News report says the bill would expand the list of discriminatory acts to include blocking gays' access to government offices or private places, denying service in hospitality venues and hindering someone's career. The report notes the legislation would cover discrimination claims that take place online and in the media, as well as allow people to make claims for discriminatory acts that have occurred in the past. Offenders could receive prison sentences of up to five years under the new bill, which the senate must approve by June 25, to make it the law of the land.

News about the bill comes on the heels of the Brazilian senate human rights committee's approval of a proposal to define a civil union as being between two people, without their having to specify their genders. Like the new bill that would criminalize homophobia, the civil unions proposal would have to jump through the hoops of other committees before it becomes law.

Brazil's judiciary has been ahead of the country's congress on the issue of same-sex marriage, according to an Associated Press report in The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, Colombia also took steps to increase the protection of gays when its constitutional court ruled that the government cannot limit gay couples' right to express affection in public, after two men were told to leave a Cali mall after a security guard found them kissing. 

Images and information: gaypridebrazil.org

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