Power of words: Brazil LGBT launch guide for media

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Power of words: Brazil LGBT launch guide for media

05 March 2010

LGBT Communication Manual Cover

The Brazilian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transsexual (LGBT) Association (Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas, Bissexuais, Travestis e Transexuais or ABGLT) recently launched an “LGBT Communication Manual” aimed at communication professionals, students and teachers to reduce the use of inappropriate language that prejudices, or perpetuates misunderstandings about the millions Brazilian LGBT people and their supporters.

The manual was created with the support of UNAIDS as part of ABGLT’s “Allies” Project. The Brazilian LGBT movement produces a number of tools as part of their goal to educate Brazilians about the human rights of sexual minorities. The tools reinforce the message that every citizen plays an important role in building a fairer, more just society for all regardless of sexual practice.

Unfortunately social norms still make it difficult for people to deal with diversity and respect to all. We do hope that this manual may mean an additional seed of cultural and behaviour change, for the better.

Pedro Chequer, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Brazil

Highlighting common misconceptions about LGBT practices and identities that continue to be seen in the media is one of the themes of the manual. For example, a man may have sex with men without considering himself homosexual, bisexual or gay. He may have homosexual practices, but continue to identify himself as a heterosexual man.

For this situation, health professionals have coined the phrase “men who have sex with men” or MSM, to identify the sexual behaviour of a person rather than labelling sexual orientation or gender identity.

The manual also reminds professionals that a person should never be identified in media product (including news story, video, or photograph) as being HIV positive unless they formally agree in advance.

Social norms still barrier to diversity

“The initiative of elaborating a manual like this is extremely crucial and we welcome it and congratulate the ABGLT for such community service,” said Mr Pedro Chequer, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Brazil.

Mr Chequer notes that Brazilian legislation does not punish people for their sexual orientation or gender identity, and on the contrary, it states and reinforces the rights of all citizens.

“In addition,” said Mr Chequer, “the very First National Conference on LGBT people was convened by the President of Brazil in 2008. However, unfortunately social norms still make it difficult for people to deal with diversity and respect to all. We do hope that this manual may mean an additional seed of cultural and behaviour change, for the better”

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transsexual communities in Brazil

The Brazilian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transsexual Association was created in 31 January 1995 by 31 founding groups. Currently it is a national network of 220 organizations and is the largest LGBT network in Latin America.

The resolution of the 1st ABGLT Congress in 2005 reads: “Vulnerability to HIV and its consequences are heightened by violations of the right to life, freedom, information, education, health and equality (non-discrimination)... Reducing vulnerability is related to increased active citizenship, whereby in addition to having rights and duties, citizens take an increasing part in public matters.”