Thursday, August 4, 2011

Brody's Notes... Sao Paulo Alderman Wants Heterosexual Pride To Counter "Privileged" Gay Celebration

Sao Paulo, Brazil, city alderman Carlos Apolinario
Photo via Grupo Gay da Bahia
By Brody Levesque | SAO PAULO, BRAZIL -- The city council of Sao Paulo, Brazil, passed a measure yesterday that calls for a Heterosexual Pride Day to be celebrated on the third Sunday of each December. A spokesperson for the city's mayor, Gilberto Kassab, whose signature is required for the legislative proposal to become law, declined comment other than to offer that the mayor was studying the measure.
The author of the legislation, city alderman Carlos Apolinario, told journalists that his idea for a Heterosexual Pride Day is "not anti-gay but a protest against the privileges the gay community enjoys."
Apolinaro has a long record of opposing LGBTQ equality rights, claiming that he is in fact not homophobic, but concerned that the Brazilian LGBTQ community was being offered special legal protections beyond what he considers appropriate for all Brazilian citizens.
As the debate over LGBTQ equality rights continues to rage in Brazil, the alderman recently remarked:
The law must be equal for everyone, but we have seen for a while now is a deification of the gays, because the newspapers almost every day brings some matter on them, the government is concerned to discuss the matter up in schools, with children and adolescents, distributing booklets and videos.
The impression is that the most important issue in the press, the courts, in Congress is the issue of so-called gay rights, the rights plan is treated with almost a dozen rights for gays.
Not blacks, who are part of our history, have the same space in the media. The government also does not show any concern to combat racism in schools telling the story of blacks and their importance to our country
In addition, we have many kinds of prejudice to be fought. What's more, those who claim to defend gay rights, privileges actually argue as if the gay was a special category of people who are above the law.
Last June, in an opinion piece written for the Sao Paulo newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, Apolinaro wrote:
The Federal Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression. We can criticize divorce between heterosexual unions, businessmen, politicians, Catholics, evangelicals, priests and pastors, but if we speak against the thought of gays, we are considered homophobic and threatening, even with processes. Punishing someone for expressing dissenting opinion is typical of dictatorships. I'm convinced that we are living in a dictatorship gay, because in a democracy, anyone can disagree.
Sao Paulo City Flag
The alderman is particularly incensed that the city's massive Gay Pride Parade is staged on one of Sao Paulo's main thoroughfares, Avenida Paulista, while the annual 'March For Jesus,' organised by evangelical groups, have routinely been denied permits and permission to use the same route.
He told reporters:
"I respect gays and I am against any kind of aggression made against them," Apolinario said. "I have no trouble coexisting with gays as long as their behavior is normal.  I respect the gay and lesbian, because as a Christian, I learned the meaning and value of free will, but I disagree with the exclusivity that the government gives the gay community.
These situations [Gay Pride] make homosexuals a special category of people. The way things are going, soon someone will present a project in Sao Paulo turning it into the gay capital of the country."
The Brazilian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Association criticised the legislation, saying it could provoke homophobic violence.
"How many LGBTs will be attacked because of the message that only heterosexuality makes someone a moral person and a good citizen," the association said in a statement.
"The celebration of heterosexual pride is inappropriate because it belittles the just cause of the LGBT community," the statement added. "Unlike homosexuals, heterosexuals are not discriminated against simply for being heterosexuals."
In a recent report, the gay rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia said 260 gays were murdered last year in Brazil, up 113 percent from five years earlier.