Young gay man gang-raped and tortured as hatred spirals in Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil

People hold up an LGBT+ Pride flag during a march

In an act of “barbaric” violence, a gay 22-year-old was gang-raped and tortured in Brazil, touching off fear and frustration among activists.

The victim, who has not been named, was attacked by three armed men in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina last week. Wielding sharp objects, they forced the victim to carve homophobic slurs onto his legs.

Passersby were stunned to find the man writhing in pain in the middle of the street where he was left, activists told The Guardian newspaper.

He was rushed to hospital in serious condition and is now recovering at home. Police have launched an investigation – no arrest have been made at the time of writing.

To activists in a Brazil increasingly inured to anti-LGBT+ violence – its president deeply homophobic – the “frightening crime” was in no way surprising.

“It’s very common in Brazil, and violence – not only against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people but also women, Black people and immigrants – is worsening,” said Lirous Ávila, president of the Association in Defence of Human Rights.

The association, which aids victims of violence in the capital city, is supporting the victim’s loved ones.

Brazil Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian President and ‘proud homophobe’ Jair Bolsonaro. (EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty)

But the incident, which took place during Pride Month, has touched off national anger – and homophobia – from Brazilians, advocates said. Ávila said that some have sought to justify the attack because the victim was gay.

“It’s absurd to justify violence that is brutal and barbaric,” she said.

Brazil is also one of the deadliest places in the world to be trans, annually topping advocacy group’s tallies on the number of violent crimes against trans folk that take place.

Last year alone, 175 trans people were slain, according to advocacy group National Association of Travestis and Transexuals of Brazil. By its estimates, a trans person was murdered every two days in a nation of 211 million.

In the group’s report, a startling figure captured the apparent impunity felt by violent transphobes: seven out of every 10 trans deaths in Brazil occurred in a public space.

“We have a president who compounded this violence,” said Ávila.

“It seems that the population feels it has a right to commit these violent acts against the LGBT+ population, influenced by Bolsonaro.”