Brazil’s federal government has been noted for some of its anti-LGBTQ+ and far-right leaning policies. However, on November 15, 2020, Brazil held its local elections and voted in 25 new transgender lawmakers and a total of 48 new LGBTQ+ city councillors. An important social shift, considering Brazil has been known as one of the most dangerous places for transgender people in the world.
What could that mean for the country? Are viewpoints changing? Consider this – two of the most popular candidates in São Paulo’s city council elections were transgender – Erika Hilton and Thammy Miranda. And with almost 60,000 votes Hilton was the most highly voted woman across the country.
Hilton has spoken out in the past about the troubles she has faced getting to where she is now, due to not only her gender identity but also the colour of her skin. While talking about her experience with racism in Brazil, she said: “There is no way to break the structural and institutional racism without talking about education, without talking about culture, without talking about housing and without reviewing this failed model of public security that we have in Brazil.”
Brazil also saw its first-ever intersex city councillor, Carolina Iara, voted in as a part of a collective candidacy. A collective candidacy is when a group of activists contest the election and, if elected, work collectively in office. Iara is a part of Bancada Feminista, and won with over 46,000 votes.
Iara is very much aware that she is breaking barriers with her election, and doesn’t discount the huge impact of visibility. Iara shared that her body “has various representations of historical social struggles for civil rights, the right to health, anti-racism and the fight against transphobia and genital mutilation of intersexed babies. So the visibility of my election is enormous.”
During those momentous elections, fellow São Paulo politician, Anabella Pavão, shared at the time that she believed “the increase in LGBTQ+ victories in these 2020 elections is the popular outcry for change, for an end to prejudice and an accurate and important response against [Jair] Bolsonaro.” President of Brazil, Bolsonaro has been widely criticised for his anti-LGBTQ+ stance in the past. He once even said that he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.
But while it is a great stride for Brazil that 48 LGBTQ+ councillors were elected, it is still a tiny percentage when compared to the more than 56,000 councillors in total that the country has. It is going to be a tough job for these councillors to fight for more education on the LGBTQ+ community, to fight for more rights, and to fight the entrenched attitude of an antagonistic leader, but they already seem highly dedicated to completing their goal. The future is in their hands.
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