In 2023, a total of 257 violent deaths were reported among LGBTQIA+ individuals in Brazil. This means that, on average, an LGBTQIA+ person lost their life to violence every 34 hours. This turns Brazil into the most homotransphobic country in the world. These statistics were released by the Bahia Gay Group (GGB), the oldest LGBT non-governmental organization in Latin America.
For 44 years, the GGB has collected data on homicides and suicides within the LGBTQIA+ community through various sources, including news reports, online surveys, and information obtained from the victims’ families.
However, the actual number of deaths could be even higher. According to the NGO, there are still 20 deaths under investigation, which could bring the total to 277 cases. “The government continues to ignore this veritable holocaust, with an LGBTQIA+ person being violently killed every 34 hours,” remarked anthropologist Luiz Mott, founder of the Bahia Gay Group.
Out of the recorded deaths, 127 were of transvestites and transgender individuals, while 118 were gay, nine were identified as lesbian, and three as bisexual. “For the second time in four decades, the absolute number of [deaths of] transvestites has exceeded that of gays. This is concerning because transvestites and transsexuals represent around 1 million people, whereas gays represent around 10 percent of Brazil’s population, approximately 20 to 22 million people. Thus, the risk of a trans or transvestite being murdered [in the country] is 19 times higher than that of a gay or lesbian,” explained Mott.
The report also reveals that most victims (67%) were young people aged between 19 and 45 at the time of their violent deaths. The youngest victim was only 13 years old and was killed in Sinop, Mato Grosso state, following an attempted rape.
Of the total deaths, 204 were homicides and 17 were murders. The Bahia Gay Group also documented 20 suicides, six more than in 2022.
Regarding the location of the violence, 29.5 percent of the victims were killed in their homes, while 40 percent lost their lives on the streets or in outdoor areas. “The pattern persists, with transvestites being shot in public places such as streets, vacant lots, roads, motels, and inns, while gays and lesbians are more likely to be stabbed or killed with tools and household utensils, especially inside their homes,” the report stated.
The Bahia Gay Group also highlighted the alarming increase in violent deaths of LGBTQIA+ individuals in Brazil’s Southeast region, which recorded 100 cases, making it the most affected region for the first time in 44 years.
The Northeast region followed closely with 94 deaths, while the South reported 24, the Central-West 22, and the North 17.
“What is striking is the unexplained increase in violent mortality among LGBT+ individuals in the Southeast, which surged from 63 cases in 2022 to 100 in 2023, claiming the top spot nationally—a trend unprecedented since 1980, marking a 59 percent rise. Unfortunately, this data indicates that, contrary to expectations and aspirations, improved education and higher regional quality of life measured by the Human Development Index (HDI) have not acted as deterrents to homotransphobic lethal violence,” stated Alberto Schmitz, coordinator of the Luiz Mott Documentation Center of the Dignity Group in Curitiba.
São Paulo state reported 34 deaths, Minas Gerais 30, Rio de Janeiro 28, Bahia 22, and Ceará 21, making them the states with the highest number of violent deaths of LGBTQIA+ individuals in 2023. “Unfortunately, the police authorities only managed to solve 77 cases of violent death,” the NGO reported.
Urgent need for public policies
The GGB emphasized the urgent need for effective public policies and actions to combat violence against the LGBTQIA+ community, starting with the official documentation of these deaths. “The Bahia Gay Group has consistently urged public authorities to compile statistics on hate crimes against LGBT individuals, as well as against black and indigenous communities. Unfortunately, even the government´s statistic agency IBGE has not systematically and universally included LGBT individuals in its census, and neither have police stations nor public security departments at the national level been able to record all cases of harassment, bullying, assault, and deaths of LGBT individuals,” said Mott.
The NGO asserts that the absence of official data, which could enable more effective public policies, reflects deep-rooted homophobia and transphobia within Brazil’s structures, institutions, and government.