Tensions remain high in Brazil where President Dilma Rousseff was expected to meet with organizers of protests regarding issues like public spending and transportation improvements. While the demonstrations took place in major cities throughout the country, a congressional panel quietly gave the go ahead to a controversial proposal.
Last week the Chamber of Deputies commission on human rights approved a bill that would remove a fourteen-year-old ban on so-called “conversion therapy” for gays and lesbians. Therefore, the “gay cure” bill would permit psychologists to “treat” homosexuality as an illness.
The panel is headed by evangelical pastor Marco Feliciano who reportedly tried to put the "gay cure" initiative before the commission but failed. Commission members eventually approved the bill amid a low turnout.
Feliciano has come under fire for referring to AIDS a "gay cancer" in a tweet and for claiming that John Lennon's murder in 1980 was “divine retribution” for saying the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ.
The proposal could be sunk, as other committees must debate it before going to the full Chamber of Deputies and the Senate for votes. Nevertheless, the bill is symbolic of the growing political clout among evangelical Christians who make up approximately one-quarter of the Brazilian population. This has not gone unnoticed by Rousseff who appointed an evangelical bishop to her cabinet though her choice could be seen as an example of the government corruption demonstrators have been criticizing about:
Last year, Rousseff named evangelical bishop Marcelo Crivella as her fisheries minister, even though he admitted publicly he knew little about fishing. Crivella is nephew of Edir Macedo, founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Bishop Macedo, a billionaire who owns the TV Record network, has 5 million followers and is a hugely influential power broker in Brazil.
The actions by Feliciano and the commission led some gay rights activists to participate in the mass protests held in numerous Brazilian cities over the past two weeks. Furthermore, the Brazilian psychologists' council has publicly condemned the proposal.
"Rousseff is not going to do anything that would alienate the evangelicals," said David Fleischer, political science professor at the University of Brasilia. "No candidate in their right mind would do that."
In the meantime, numerous notaries in Colombia were confused on Friday over whether to allow same-sex couples to marry while several thousand Chileans participated in Santiago’s Gay Pride Parade on Saturday.
Video Source– YouTube via AFP (Last month a “top judicial panel” approved a proposal that would legalize same sex marriages in Brazil).
Online Sources – Bloomberg; Reuters; USA TODAY; nacion.cl; euronews; Gay Star News