Brazil: A model against discrimination

30 May 2014

Note: On 2 June 2014, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff enacted a new law that prohibits discrimination against people living with HIV. The law provides penalties for anyone who:

  • Denies, delays, cancels or prevents the enrolment or retention of a student living with HIV in educational establishments of any level, whether public or privat; 
  • Denies employment or work; dismisses from office or job; or segregates within the work or school environment based on HIV status;
  • Discloses the condition of the person living with HIV; or
  • Denies or delays health care.

The iconic Brazilian landmark of Christ the Redeemer was the venue for an event hosted on 24 May to promote respect and human rights. Organized by UNAIDS in a partnership with the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, the event brought together United Nations and government representatives, religious leaders and other partners to call for a society free from stigma.

The ceremony was part of the UNAIDS’ Zero Discrimination campaign—which aims to eliminate discrimination that hinders the right to a full, dignified and productive life—and the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro’s campaign Somos Todos Iguais which seeks to promote  respect for human rights.

The event was attended by Luis Lourez, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director; Cardinal Dom Orani Tempesta; Ndaba and Kweku Mandela; Sônia Regina Gonçalves, representing the communities of Rio de Janeiro; Monsignor Robert Vitillo, from Caritas Internationalis; Babalawo Ivanir dos Santos, from Rio’s Commission Against Religious Intolerance; father Omar Raposo, rector of Christ the Redeemer; canon Marcos William Bernardo, episcopal vicar for Social Communication; Adele Benzaken, Deputy Director, STD/AIDS Department, Brazilian Ministry of Health; and civil society representatives.


"We have the technology, and we have the knowledge to bring this epidemic to an end. What hinders us today are the prevailing stigma and discrimination."

UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Luiz Loures

"The world we desire and want is a world in which people can move around, in which they can come and go without feeling threatened by their way of thinking, by their religion, their ideas, by the disease they may carry; a life in which dignity is present. It is knowledge, brotherhood, the love for your neighbours that make the difference."

Cardinal Dom Orani Tempesta

"It's important to talk about discrimination not only because Brazil is hosting the World Cup, but also because Brazil reflects much of the world. There are [in Brazil] many people from different cultures, backgrounds, different skin colors. If we can move forward here in Brazil, we can definitely progress around the world."

Kweku Mandela

"The worst kind of discrimination is the lack of respect for others, and Pope Francis has asked us to use social networks and the media to talk about loving our neighbours."

Márcio Tadeu Ribeiro Francisco, professor at the Rio de Janeiro State (UERJ) and Veiga de Almeida (UVA) universities, social activist and coordinator of the Zero Discrimination campaign in Rio de Janeiro