If you’re heading to Brazil over Labor Day weekend, a gay travel website warns LGBTQ+ tourists to exercise extra caution.
The South American country tops GayCities’ list of places that queer and transgender people should avoid when planning their next vacation. The website cites the extremely high rate of violence against LGBTQ+ people in Brazil, where 445 people were murdered in 2017 because of their gender identity or sexual orientation — more than one killing every single day.
The rate of violence didn’t slow down last year. According to Brazilian activist groups, more than 160 trans people were killed in 2018.
The most high-profile killing of an LGBTQ+ person in Brazil was Marielle Franco, a lesbian feminist and human rights advocate who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in 2018. A city councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro, she was assassinated one day after calling attention to the death of Matheus Melo Castro, a black man who was gunned down by police at a security checkpoint.
“Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed,” Franco said. “How many others will have to die for this war to end?”
Brazil’s right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, has done little to address the extreme rates of violence the country’s LGBTQ+ community suffers every day, and arguably, he has only stoked the fires of hate. Prior to taking office in January, Bolsonaro — himself a former Rio councilman — has claimed he would rather have a dead son than a gay one and has said he would beat a same-sex couple if he saw them kissing.
Further proving the point of GayCities’ story, Bolsonaro warned that his country must do what it takes to ensure Brazil doesn’t become a “gay tourism paradise.”
“If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life,” he told press in a April conference, as the magazine Exame reported at the time. “Brazil can’t be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism. We have families.”
But Brazil isn’t the only country where GayCities says LGBTQ+ travelers should watch their backs. It also pointed to Egypt, which arrested more than 57 people in an anti-LGBTQ+ crackdown in 2017, and Tanzania, where the capital of Dar Es Salaam launched a surveillance squad last year to identify and apprehend people suspected to be LGBTQ+.
GayCities instead recommends LGBTQ+ tourists travel to friendlier places like Peru and Botswana on their holidays. Botswana, which neighbors South Africa, recently became the first African country to strike down its colonial sodomy ban.