3. LGBT rights: the rainbow tide


Latin American countries have passed some of the world’s most advanced pro-LGBT laws. However, rates of discrimination, violence, and murder affecting gay and trans people are extremely high, especially in Brazil and Central America.

LGBT people are campaigning for same-sex marriage, laws against homophobia and pathologization, and the right to change gender identity by simple administrative procedures, though the churches, both Catholic and Evangelical, present a formidable barrier.


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About the Author

Ali Rocha is a news and documentary producer who has contributed to the BBC, Channel Four, ITN, Al Jazeera English and SBS (Australia) on their Brazil coverage since 2003. She is a human rights activist and researches police violence in Brazil.

She now runs social media group Brazil Matters, aimed at drawing international attention to social, environmental and human rights issues in Brazil.


Edgardo Fernández (tango teacher and LGBT activist): interviewed in Buenos Aires on 7 November 2016 by Nina Meghji. Translated by Dominic Power.

Michel Riquelme and Jimena Norambuena (OTD Chile): interviewed in Santiago de Chile on 24 November 2016 by Nina Meghji. Transcribed by Nina Meghji.

Jean Wyllys (PSOL deputy for Rio de Janeiro): interviewed in Rio de Janeiro on 8 December 2016 by Ali Rocha. Translated by Jennifer Alexander and Hugo Moss.


NB: All web references were checked and still available in May/June 2018 unless otherwise stated.

AlJazeera (2017) ‘Chile’s Bachelet sends gay marriage bill to congress’, 28 August

Ativistas Independentes (2017) ‘Judith Butler, a propagadora de odio’, 10 November

BBC (2017) ‘Chile leader sends gay marriage bill to congress’, 29 August

Carroll, A. and Mendos, L. R. (2017) State Sponsored Homophobia 2017: A World Survey of Sexual Orientation Laws 2017: Criminalisation, Protection and Recognition, International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), Geneva, May

Chiam, Z., Duffy, S. and González Gil, M. (2017) ‘Trans Legal Mapping Report 2017: Recognition before the Law‘, ILGA, Geneva, November

Cowie, S. (2018) ‘Violent deaths of LGBT people in Brazil hit all-time high’, The Guardian, 22 January

El Destape (2017) ‘El controvertido proyecto de Macri que pone en peligro al matrimonio igualitario

Frayssinet, F. (2014) ‘Comprehensive sex education: a pending task in Latin America’, Inter Press Service

Ghoshal, N. (2018) ‘For LGBT rights, 2018 will be the year of the courts’, Human Rights Watch

Giraldo, I. (2017) ‘The “gender ideology” menace and the rejection of the peace agreement in Colombia’, Discover Society

Jenkin, M. (2016) ‘Electric shocks, rape and submersion: “gay cures” and the fight to end them’, The Guardian, 9 February

La Nación (2009) video fragment of interview with Mauricio Macri

Lindner, J. (2017) ‘CCJ aprova reconhecimento de união estável e casamento entre pessoas do mesmo sexo’, Estadão, 3 May

Moloney, A. (2018) ‘Gays in Ecuador raped and beaten in rehab clinics to “cure” them’, Reuters, 8 February

Phillips, D. (2017) ‘Brazilian judge approves “gay conversion therapy”, sparking national outrage’, The Guardian, 19 September

Pulliam Bailey, S. (2017) ‘How the prosperity gospel is sparking a major change in predominantly Catholic Brazil’, Washington Post, 29 October

Rossi, M. and Novaes, M. (2015) ‘Os direitos básicos aos quais transexuais e travestis não têm acesso’, El País Brasil, 28 August

Seligson, M. and Moreno Morales, D. (2010) ‘Gay in the Americas’, Americas Quarterly

Stewart, K. (2017) ‘School books with section on gender equality cause uproar in Peru’, VICE News

Strobl, T. (2017) ‘Brazil as world LGBT murder capital and Rio’s place in the data’, RioOnWatch

Transgender Europe (2016) ‘Transgender Day of Visibility 2016 – Trans Murder Monitoring update

UN OHCHR (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) (2016) ‘“Pathologization – Being lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans is not an illness”, for International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia’, 17 May

UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) (n.d.) ‘Comprehensive sexuality education

Further reading


Jean Wyllys and Brazil

Edgardo Fernández and Argentina

LGBT rights in Chile