U.S. Consulate General News & Activities
American Professor Discusses LGBT Rights in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, July16, 2012
On July 12 & 13, 2012, the U.S. Consulate General hosted City University of New York (CUNY) History Professor Dagmar Herzog in Rio de Janeiro for a program on LGBT rights. On June 12, Prof. Herzog participated in a full-day program organized by the Rio de Janeiro State Secretariat of Social Assistance and Human Rights (SEASDH). The program started with a one-on-one meeting with State Superintendent for Individual, Collective and Diffuse Rights, Cláudio Nascimento Silva, who briefed Prof. Herzog on the fight for LGBT rights in Brazil. Following this meeting, Prof. Herzog participated in a working group meeting, where she discussed the theme “Public Policies for Gender and Sexual Orientation” with a group of 40 staffers from SEASDH and coordinators of the four Reference Centers for the Fight against Homophobia and LGBT Citizenship, based in the cities of Rio, Niterói, Duque de Caxias e Nova Friburgo. Prof. Herzog described some of the U.S. history and current challenges in the areas of LGBT and gender rights, affirmative action, and marriage equality.
After a luncheon hosted by State Secretary of Social Assistance and Human Rights Antônio Claret Campos, Prof. Herzog was the keynote speaker in a panel discussion on “Public Policies, Sexuality and LGBT Citizenship.” Approximately 150 state government officials, LGBT and human rights activists, social workers, psychologists, attorneys, academics and students attended the program. Other speakers included the President of the NGO “Arco-Íris” (Rainbow) Group of LGBT Citizenship, Julio Moreira, Rio de Janeiro State Superintendent for Individual, Collective and Diffuse Rights, Cláudio Nascimento Silva, Coordinator of the Reference Center for the Fight against Homophobia and LGBT Citizenship, Almir França, State University of Rio de Janeiro Researcher, Sergio Carrara, and psychologist Adriana Balthazar. U.S. Consulate General Information Officer Sara Mercado delivered opening remarks and introduced the U.S. speaker. In her remarks, Prof. Herzog listed twelve main strategies which have been most successful or hold the greatest potential in promoting LGBT rights globally, including: housing discrimination and job security laws; building visibility in media by creating positive LGBT characters on mainstream television and movies; promoting celebrities who “come out”; getting the sports community to pledge support for LGBT rights; anti-bullying practices; comprehensive sex education in schools, including the promotion of different family composition; police training in LGBT rights; the adoption of rainbow signs by businesses to indicate that they are friendly commercial environments for the LGBT community and families; working inside churches; seeking political support from across the entire spectrum, including the conservative parties; stressing the economic importance of the LGBT “pink dollar” spending both at home and on tourism abroad.
On July 13, the Consulate co-hosted the seminar “Same-Sex Civil Unions: The Same Rights with the Same Names,” in partnership with the Regional Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo, the Federal Justice Cultural Center, the Office of Congressman Jean Wyllys and the Consulate General of Argentina in Rio de Janeiro. The program took place in the hall where the Supreme Court of Brazil handed down decisions when Rio de Janeiro was the capital of the country, and attracted a group of 150 magistrates, lawyers, state and city government officials, human rights and LGBT activists, businesspeople from the tourism sector, psychologists, social workers, academics, students and journalists. The U.S. Consulate General’s Political and Economic Section Chief, Alfred Boll, delivered the opening remarks, and focused on President Barack Obama’s and Secretary Hillary Clinton’s initiatives to support the promotion of the human rights of the LGBT community, as well as describing the current legal situation regarding same-sex marriage in states across the U.S. Justice Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni from the Supreme Court of Argentina delivered the keynote address. In his remarks, Justice Zaffaroni stressed that “to fight for equality is to fight for the right to be different.”
In the afternoon, Professor Dagmar Herzog participated in a panel entitled “Marriage Equality: A Multi-disciplinary Approach,” which also featured Congressman Jean Wyllys, Federal Appellate Judge, Guilherme Calmon da Gama, Federal Judge Fernanda Duarte, Rio de Janeiro City Hall’s Special Coordinator of Sexual Diversity, Carlos Tufvesson, and psychologist Sócrastes Nolasco, and was moderated by the Head of Folha de São Paulo’s office in Rio de Janeiro, journalist Cristina Grillo. According to Prof. Herzog, polling numbers indicate that 50% of the U.S. population is today in favor of same-sex marriage. Outlining some of the main arguments behind the legal defense of same-sex marriage in the U.S., she listed equality before the law (the 14th Amendment), the right to privacy, the Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Texas, laws regarding discrimination in the workplace and in housing, and the recent revocation by President Obama of the U.S. military’s previous “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding sexual orientation.
During her stay in Rio de Janeiro, Prof. Herzog gave interviews to Folha de São Paulo newspaper and Mix Brasil web portal.