Since When Is Brazil The New Iran?

Just read the news today that 27-year-old Brazilian Augusto Pereira de Souza has been granted legal asylum in the United States claiming persecution and harassment in his homeland because of his homosexuality.


Having lived in New York for several years, I do understand that people sometimes will do whatever they can to become legal residents of the US, but what I don't understand is how the US government let this one pass, and how Augusto Pereira de Souza's lawyers were able to make a case for granting legal asylum to someone who comes from the country with the biggest Gay Pride parade in the world. I am not saying by any means that Brazil is the most liberal country in the world when it comes to gay rights, but we are certainly not Iran or Uganda. And please correct me if I am wrong, but how much safer in terms of hate crimes is Augusto Pereira de Souza going to be in Newark as opposed to in São Paulo? As a gay man living in Brazil, I have to admit that at a certain level I am offended with the grounds on which Mr. de Souza was allowed to stay in the US.

In his defense, Mr. de Souza released an official statement: "I lived in constant panic in Brazil. I tried to hide that my homosexuality, but the attacks and threats were constant. At the time (I lived in Brazil), I have been attacked by skinheads and brutally beat up by the police. After you've been threatened by the police, you become aware that there is no one there to protect you, so coming the live in US was a matter of life or death for me." Because that sort of stuff never happens in the US, right?

Via Dolado.


I actually have a friend from Brazil who was granted asylum on the same legal basis as well. I'm assuming that you reside in Sao Paulo and are afforded the luxury of living in a metropolitan area that is more accustomed to gay culture. However, a large percentage of Brazil resides outside of that bubble and is uneducated, underexposed and ignorant. Smaller towns can be extremely oppressive atmospheres were people can feel ostracized and stressed because of the environment. The fact that you haven't experienced that first hand in Brazil doesn't negate the existence of the problem. If Augusto is happier in the USA and can make a legal case for his feeling that way, then hats off to him. Having one of the largest gay pride parades in the world, which featured a homemade bomb that injured over 20 people during last years festivities, doesn't make up for the day to day discrimination that still occurs.

Are you telling me that in the US there aren't smaller towns where people can feel ostracized and stressed because of the environment?

I am happy that he will get to stay in the US if he wants to live there, but I don't think living in Brazil is a more dangerous to gay men than living in the US is. The problems Augusto would face outside of a large metropolitan area in Brazil are pretty similar to those he could possibly face outside of a large metropolitan area in the US, which may explain why he is living in Newark.

It seems you don't read the news about gay bashing in Brazil.

WHERE exactly did the guy live in Brazil?

I agree that this is absurd. Yes, there is homophobia in Brazil, but there's homophobia everywhere. São Paulo is an extremely modern city and it's just as friendly towards gays as New York is. If this guy is from a rural area of the country, he can have an anonymous life in SP just like the rest of us (and he doesn't have to be privileged to do that). And it's just SP where gay life thrives, there are plenty of huge cities like Rio and Salvador to choose from.

I agree with you MIB and thought exactly the same things when I heard about the story... It's sad how some people will just do anything to get a green card. I hope Augusto enjoy his American dream. My personal opinion is that considering the current economic, social and cultural momentum of the respective countries he would get a lot more out of his "dream" by moving to a big Brazilian city such as Sao Paulo, Rio, BH or Curitiba. It also goes to show how little Americans actually know about Brazil...

where in Brazil did he live?

Maybe the message is that there is work that needs to be done in Brazil to make other places than Jardins and Ipanema safe areas for gays? Oh I forgot that Jardins isn't safe for gays...

Regardless whether similar work needs to be done in the US as well.

This is so sad, and I REALLY DON'T want to offend anyone here, but there are a LOT of Catholics in Brazil. That said, do gays go around abusing them for being Catholics??? NO.

"but there are a LOT of Catholics in Brazil"

Your point being? There's millions of puritanical, God fearing, fundamentalist Christians in the United States that are much more dangerous than Catholics in Brazil! Also, F.Y.I, there are a LOT of Catholics in Spain where same sex marriage is allowed! I find this story absurd, small-town Brazil is NO different to small town USA. If he heads down to Alabama etc.. he'll be treated the same way! Hell, even in small town liberal California there's homophobia! At the end of the day he's moved to a country where gays CAN'T openly serve in the military, gays CAN'T marry & are NOT afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples. If he really wanted equality then he should have jumped on a plane to Western Europe & claimed asylum!

This is bullshit. I'm from the same city as this guy (Porto Alegre) and yes, there's prejudice as anywhere else, but most of my friends are gay and we are pretty much free to do whatever we want - kiss our boyfriends/girlfriends in public, walk on the street, etc.
This guy is taking advantage - that's all.

OMG, he lived in Porto Alegre?! lol, then I have to commend this guy for being so smart and getting exactly what he wanted from the gringos: a hassle-free green card. You go girl! He will be so much safer living in the Queens, the Bronx, Harlem... Right?!

I can't believe he is actually from my hometown.

So tell us all your impressions of being gay in Porto Alegre, man.;)

Let's just say I don't think I have ever seen a skinhead in Porto Alegre. I have tons of gay friends there, and not a single one of them feels like they need to move to another country to stay alive.

Não acredito que você possa dizer que no Brazil não há preconceito. Na sua cidade natal mesmo, Porto Alegre, á só rebolar um pouco mais que o povo já sai gritando baixaria na rua. Se não me acredita faz o teste.

mas concordo que pedir azilo nos estados unidos é meio ridículo... se fosse no Reino Unido teria mais sentido.

Não estou dizendo que não existe preconceito no Brasil, mas sim que existe basicamente o mesmo preconceito nos Estados Unidos, e que o preconceito que enfrentamos no Brasil não justifica um pedido de asilo legal em outro país.

I love Brazil. I have never felt more comfortable and safe, as a gay man, than when I visited Brazil. Sao Paulo is gayer than San Francisco! Sheeesh

I agree with the blogger. Why couldn't he move to another city WITHIN Brazil like Florianópolis, São Paulo, Rio or Salvador?

Brazil is the FIRST country in the world with crimes against gay men according to the last Junior magazine. FIRST.

Easy for you to post that from your little gay empire but imagine if you lived for instance in Pindamohangaba do Norte and you have people harassing you. You certainly will be safer in Newark, at least the police there probably works.

I always had a feeling you were educated.

Not this time.

You are right saying some people abuse the right of asylum but a lot of them actually need it. Educate yourself before posting dude.

I totally agree with you MIB ! This is an absurd, and he's definetely not a good PR for our country as a gay destination. A clain for asylum is just ridiculous !

Some interesting facts about gay rights by country:

If he had proof he got beaten up by the police, then it's certain that the place he came from was a shit place and he had all the reason in the world to go.

I applaud all of the comments here about such an important and sensitive issue!!!!

Interesting story. I cannot comment on this guys experience but as a New Zealander I can tell you my impressions. I have travelled in Brasil, and find it similar to most other countries I have lived in or visited. Gay culture thrives in the larger centres but is more difficult ( but not always impossible) in rural areas and smaller towns. That seems to be a common situatation in countries where we have begun to win our rights but where we are not fully enfranchised.

I live with my Carioca partner in Sydney - the inner city is great, but there are places we must be careful in the outer areas or other smaller towns. Our fight goes on and every year we have Mardi Gras to celebrate but bashings and abuse still occur. Some police are ignorant bigots as are some religeous fanatics.

We will have a civil union wedding in NZ this year (we still don't have this right in Australia) and want to move to Brasil some time after that and I understand our relationship is legally recognized, allowing me to live permanently in BR with my husband.

All this tells me that our world is full of contradictions - the rights we have won are benefiting us in certain ways, but we have a long journey ahead to be able to consider ourselves truly equal everywhere.

Andre, u are not making any sense, sure, he is safer in newark then in Pindamonhangaba, but if he was from pindamonhangaba, what he isn`t, after all he is from Porto Alegre, he could just move to a big city, and not ask for asylum in another country. I am not gay, but most of my friends are, and i`ve never seen them having any problems because of this here in sao paulo.

Here's a little gem on prejudice in Brazil, played out on national television by a gaucho:

Guess Porto Alegre's skinhead is not in Porto Alegre, or Rio Grande do Sul, but in Rio at Brazil's Big Brother...

I am an obviously gay man of mature years. An intelligent
sixth-grader can easily recognize me as "one of the ilk."
I live in Rio about half of the year. Wherever I go in Brazil,
I am accompanied by a very str8 armed bodyguard who has saved
my skin on many occasions--more often than in any other
country in the world. So I can easily see why this rather
effeminate man would want out. In Brazil, if one doesn't "pass,"
he should hire a bodyguard, or seek residence in a less violently
homophobic country.

I respect Brazil, but I have to be honest. Brazil is to some degree not as developed as other countries a person could go to. Like it or not, that is the case. Police helicopters hover for "hours" over the most posh parts of Sao Paulo as searches are made for members of drug cartels. It happens regularly enough that the residents consider it entertainment??? If you happened to be jailed for mental health problems, what is the possibility of getting any real help unless you really have money-even then? If your lover dies and the family blames you for it. You end up having to have 24/7 body guards because the police let you know their not going to get involved-even when attempts are made on your life. I could give you more examples-they are there, but to be honest things in Brazil are less controlled in many respects. In time it should be change but it has a way to go.

This is not a debate about violence and crime in Brazil. Of course I do not feel as safe in São Paulo as I did in New York, but it has nothing to do with the fact that I am gay. When it comes to homophobia, and I am saying this based on personal experience alone, I don't feel São Paulo is any different from New York.

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