Brazilian Pastor Silas Malafaia, a televangelist who is sometimes compared to Pat Robertson for his polemic comments and politicizing LGBT issues, has waded in on the debate on criminalization for homophobia.
An extraordinary meeting of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights in the House of Representatives was held last week to debate on the divisive issue of PLC 122/06 in Brazil. The bill is currently pending in Congress and proposes criminalization for bias acts motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity.
During his speech Malafaia alleged that the law “criminalizes faith and religion and it does not fit into a laic state.”
Malafaia defines homosexuality as a behavioral issue: “Homosexuality is a behavior.”
He explained that homosexuals are “a man and a woman by genetic determination but homosexual by preference; something learned or imposed.”
The debate started in 2006 after an attempt to approve the bill was stopped following the mobilization of religious and pro-family groups. However, the debate was reignited in April this year after the bill was reopened by the senator Marta Suplicy.
Malafaia claims that the bill makes an invalid point as there are no other such laws to cater for other types of behaviors.
“Homosexuals want something that they don’t have a right in. So, does it mean we will have to approve laws for all other behaviors?”
The popular pastor claimed that homosexuals have not been able to differentiate what is criticism and what is prejudice: “[For homosexuals] criticizing their behavior is discrimination!”
“A homophobic person is someone categorized in psychiatry that has an aversion to homosexuals who wants to beat, abuse and kill,” he explained.
Gay activists justify the importance of the law by saying that the number of attacks against homosexuals is high in the country. According to research released by gay organization Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB) this year, a Brazilian homosexual is murdered every 36 hours due to homophobia.
Critics say, however, that the prejudice and crime affects not only homosexuals but also several other segments of society. For them, the bill is unconstitutional and it curtails religious freedom and freedom of speech.