Hoping to reduce discrimination against Brazil's gay population, the government will launch a campaign called "Brazil Against Homophobia," the country's official news agency said Tuesday. "One of the program's main objectives is to train public school teachers how to discuss homosexuality in the classroom," National Human Rights secretary Nilmario Miranda told Agencia Brasil. "The idea is to prevent students from discriminating against their classmates because of their sexual orientation. Prejudice and discrimination breed much of the violence practiced against homosexuals. To stem this violence, teachers must be able to transmit values of tolerance and respect."
The program also includes special training for the country's police forces, which are often accused of excessive violence against gay people. Gay rights groups estimate that gay men and lesbians make up about 6% of Brazil's 178 million population. A leader of Brazil's gay movement sees the program, which will be inaugurated May 25, as a "major victory.... It is perhaps the most important step ever taken to guarantee Brazilian gays full rights as citizens," said Toni Reis, secretary-general of the Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals. "But what remains to be seen is whether this program will actually be put into practice and not remain just a bunch of well-intentioned words on paper, which is so often the case."