Brazil: Legislators Recognize Freedom to Love

SUMMARY

The State Parliament of Minas Gerais, Brazil, has passed Law 694/99. This groundbreaking measure adds sexual orientation as a protected status to the existing protections against discrimination, and also includes a specific provision stating that two people of the same sex have the right to show affection in public without being subjected to harassment or discrimination.

Law 694/99 also prescribes penalties for business, public servants and members of the general public who discriminate against others on the grounds of their sexual orientation. The bill was drafted by MP João Batista de Oliveira, of the Partido Democratico Trabalhista (Democratic Workers' Party - PDT). Penalties include fines of from 1.000 to 50.000 reais; closure of the discriminating business or office; and dismissal of public servants with the possibility of disqualification from holding further public office.

In order to become law, the measure has to be ratified by Governor Itamar Franco. According to MP Batista de Oliveira and the local LGBT organization Movimento Gay de Minas, "It is very unlikely that any difficulties will arise." Law 694/99 also creates a Referral Center where LGBT people throughout the state of Minas Gerais can seek advice in the event of discrimination. It also seats a representative of LGBT communities on the state Human Rights Council, with an active voice in public policy decision-making.

ACTION

No further action is needed at this point. Activists from Movimento Gay de Minas thank all those people from all over the world who wrote to the MPs in support of Law 694/99.

If you wish to express congratulations to Movimento Gay de Minas, please write to

Movimento Gay de Minas
phelp2000@ig.com.br