2 Soldiers Arrested in Shooting of Gay Youth on day of Rio Pride
Update:The Brazilian army is holding two soldiers in connection with the shooting of a young gay man following Rio de Janeiro’s pride parade. An army statement says one of the suspects acknowledged shooting 19-year-old student Douglas Igor Marques Luiz. The two sergeants were arrested Thursday and will be questioned by police. The army initially denied any involvement. Luiz was shot once in the stomach Sunday. He was treated and released by local hospitals.
The shooting of a gay youth by men in military uniforms after a mammoth gay pride parade is raising alarm about continuing homophobic violence in a city widely seen as a global oasis of tolerance.
Douglas Igor Marques Luiz told police he was hanging out with friends at the Arpoador, a rocky outcrop between Ipanema and Copacabana beaches Sunday when three men in military uniforms approached. The 19-year-old said they told everyone to leave, but held him back and started verbally abusing him. The aggression escalated, and eventually he was shot.
The shooting created particular attention because it came at a moment when Brazil’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual community was holding its biggest celebration in a city voted the "Sexiest Place on Earth" by the popular LGBT travel site TripOut Gay Travel in 2010.
LGBT tourists make up one quarter of its approximately 3 million international visitors every year, and Sunday’s gay pride march drew nearly a million participants, organizers estimated.
Yet despite Rio’s reputation as a gay-friendly and sexually uninhibited place where anything goes, there have been 600 complaints of anti-LGBT violence in the last year just in Rio state, according to the government-run program Rio Sem Homofobia, established in 2009 to help fight discrimination.
"We’ve gotten very far, but we need more political will to really improve conditions for the LGBT community in Brazil," said Julio Moreira, president of the advocacy organization Grupo Arco-Iris de Cidadania LGBT, which means Rainbow Group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Citizenship.
The organization has called a rally Sunday demanding a thorough investigation of the attack on Luiz, and calling for Brazil’s Senate to pass a law banning discrimination based on sexual identity or orientation.