Brazil’s high court on Thursday ruled in favor of equality, saying discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity violates the nation’s constitution.
But it’s unclear still how infamously homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro will respond to the ruling.
A majority of Federal Supreme Court ministers ruled that Brazilian lawmakers must extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ individuals, according to The Rio Times. Brazil’s Congress has declined to hear legislation that would do so since 2001, but this ruling should force lawmakers’ hand.
Several states within Brazil already have LGBTQ protections in place, but having the majority of ministers rule in favor of equality paves the way for protections to be implemented nationwide.
Brazil for years has seen the highest murder rate of transgender individuals in the world, with a trans person murdered on average every 25 hours in the year 2016, according to Rio On Watch.
Pundits told the Rio Times the most significant implication of the high court ruling may involve extending hate crime legislation to include acts targeting LGBTQ individuals.
“In the case of the murder of LGBT people, the very form of the killing shows just how much hate there is behind it,” Julio Moreira of NGO Grupo Arco-Iris told the Times. “Often the victim is shot multiple times; there are many stab wounds, sometimes appendages are removed. This comes from a place of hate.”
But the January installation of Bolsonaro offers reason for caution.
As a lawmaker, Bolsonaro boasted a long history of anti-LGBTQ votes and ran for president on a platform of promoting traditional “Christian values” Now he has promised to erase LGBTQ and feminist movements from history books.
The president even said he’d rather one of his children be dead than gay.
The controversial leader has yet to weigh in on the high court ruling but many anticipate he will resist the decision.
But activists hope the ruling reverses a rise in attacks on the LGBTQ that accompanies Bolsonaro’s rise to power.
“It is a decisive win for the LGBT community,” Flavio Grossi, a Brazilian defense attorney representing LGBTQ victims, told The Washington Post.
But Felipe Daier, another pro-LGBTQ attorney in Brazil, said it’s important the court ruling be followed by legislative action.
“It is extremely important that this criminalization be accompanied by actions that allow for gender education in schools and by a reduction in inequality in all areas of public policy,” he said.