Young gay activist who fought for the poor shot and burned to death in Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil

Lindolfo Kosmaski stands with his hands on his hips against the LGBT+ Pride and Landless Workers' Movement flags

Lindolfo Kosmaski, a gay activist who strived to uplift the rural poor, was found shot and burned to death in Brazil.

The 25-year-old was shot twice and then set on fire while tied up inside his vehicle, local activists reported.

His body was found along the PR-151 road, São João do Triunfo, in Paraná on 1 May.

Police arrested three suspects on 7 May, according to local outlet Metrópoles. Officials said the three suspects all knew the victim and are aged between 20 and 39 years old.

Kosmaski had reportedly received a death threat in the days before his murder and was last seen at a bar in Coxilhão, his cousin Benedito Camargo told UOL Noticias.

“He left his phone at the bar,” he said.

Lindolfo Komalski was a teacher and a member of the Landless Workers’ Movement, a land reform group often known by the Portuguese abbreviation MST that is one of the nation’s most resilient social movements. He was described by those who knew him as a worker “full of dreams” with a “frank smile and an open heart”.

The son of two peasants, he mounted a bid to become a municipal councillor in 2020, the Landless Workers Movement wrote in a tribute on its webpage. He stood for the left-wing Worker’s Party.

While he failed to shore up enough votes, the election saw countless trans and intersex people making huge gains.

To Brazil’s embattled LGBT+ advocates, the reason for the ever-rising rates of anti-queer hate crimes is all too clear: Jair Bolsonaro.

“Since the election of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, there has been a significant increase in violence against LGBT+ people in Brazil,” James Green, national co-coordinator for the US Network for Democracy in Brazil, a non-partisan political outreach group, told PinkNews.

“Lindolfo Komaski was a young political activist working for the rights of the rural working poor, as well as open about his being gay.

“His visibility left him vulnerable to this attack. It is important to let people know throughout the world about this brutal murder.”

The Landless Workers’ Movement mourned the death of one of their own in a statement to Metrópoles. It came as members joined Kosmaski’s loved ones and local community leaders to stage a candlelight vigil in São João do Triunfo.

“In this moment of pain, we provide all solidarity to family, friends and hope that the competent bodies can speed up investigations and find those responsible for this heinous crime,” its statement read.

“LGBTphobia is a crime and interrupts trajectories like Lindolfo’s, in a democratic and legal society there is no room for barbarism, hatred and intolerance.”

“Lindolfo was young, a peasant, gay, full of dreams,” the movement wrote in its tribute.

“He was a person known for affection and care – with a frank smile and an open heart, with a cheerful look that captivates hugs and love.

“One of those beings who roam the world with a pounding heart, open to the challenge of learning, teaching and sharing.”