Anti-LGBT Violence and Homophobia - A Growing Problem in Brazil

Even though our much loved Clarina storyline is soon coming to an end, the same cannot be said of the homophobia and anti-LGBT violence in Brazil. Feeling the urge to do something, I teamed up with Emily, whom I met through the fandom and we began researching. The result is the letter you will find below. We have contacted several media organizations regarding this issue. At the time of publication, at least one media outlet has picked up on the story and a major LGBT rights organization with global reach is now also following the situation. We hope this letter will raise awareness and you can help by forwarding this letter to any media organization that might be interested in this topic. The letter is available in several languages. Thank you for your help.


Emily & Colette


Anti-LGBT Violence and Homophobia - A Growing Problem in Brazil

Despite being home to one of the world’s largest LGBT pride celebrations and their 2013 legalization of same-sex marriage, Brazil is a country where for too many, prejudice and homophobia are still a painful and dangerous part of everyday life. Even though violence in Brazil has decreased over the past decade, crime against LGBT persons has increased, culminating in reports of 1 LGBT person murdered every 24 hours.”Though Brazil’s government has been making significant efforts to combat racial and LGBT discrimination, reports indicate that anti-LGBT violence continues to escalate and homophobia is still very much alive throughout Brazil even in those pockets of the country where LGBT culture thrives.

Many blame the rampant homophobia on the lack of education and visibility. Like the U.S., powerful conservative political groups and the Evangelical churches often use hateful, anti-gay rhetoric and media influence to incite panic and distrust of the LGBT community among members of society who are largely poor and uneducated. This part of the population is also a stalwart portion of the audience for Brazil’s famous 'novelas'. That makes television a powerful medium for battling homophobia and there is one network in particular that holds most of this power.

Powerhouse Globo

Globo is a media giant. As the world’s second largest television network (by annual revenues) and the largest media group in Latin America, Globo is the most powerful and influential company in Brazil. In comfortable control of almost half the market, Globo has the means at its disposal to change people’s minds and influence the direction in which the country is headed. According to, the size of Globo’s viewership puts it “in a position to exert significant influence on the outcome of national politics.” Because of its vast reach and immense audience, it doesn’t have to answer to anyone.

Globo seemingly understands and embraces its responsibility to educate viewers and acknowledges that television is a medium that can be used to teach a nation. Its own identity statement boasts, ‘throughout the years, TV Globo has discovered ways to entertain, inform and educate’. This accountability would seem to be particularly relevant for the network’s large conservative audience where homophobic opinion still pervades. Now, Globo has a golden opportunity to educate these audience members through its most popular programming – the novela.

Generally, the novela airing at 9pm is considered the most popular and influential, as it gathers the largest audience. Unlike American soap operas, novelas are only scheduled to last a few months. ‘Em Família,’ the current novela which airs at 9pm, began airing in February of this year and will conclude on the 18th of July. This particular novela stands out because it features a prominent lesbian couple – a first for this type of programming on Globo’s network.

The same-sex couple, Clara and Marina, has become the most popular pairing on the show, garnering a worldwide fan base while giving Brazil a realistic representation of a lesbian storyline that is beautiful and intriguing to watch. The coupling also had all the potential to educate people and put homosexuality in a more positive light and Globo pitched it as the ideal vessel for delivering an LGBT-positive message. However, soon after the romance began to develop and play out on the televisions of conservative Brazilian homes, it became clear that Globo would capitulate to prejudice and homophobia by reshaping and desexualizing the storyline.

The Storyline So Far

Loosely based on a real-life love affair, the story of Clara and Marina (‘Clarina’ as nicknamed by the fans) started out promising. Upon first meeting, the chemistry and mutual attraction between married mother Clara and glamorous lesbian photographer Marina was undeniable. Clara’s confusion about falling in love with a woman and her eventual acceptance of her bisexuality, were realistically portrayed and wonderful to watch. Marina realized very early on that Clara was the love of her life. Both women changed each other for the better. Upon meeting Marina, Clara came to realize that she had spent many years living for everyone else instead of herself. She embraced a new outlook on life and redefined her concept of happiness which gained her more confidence and independence. Soon, it became clear that her previous path wouldn’t bring her closer to happiness but that she would, in fact, find it by Marina’s side.

The story taps into the full spectrum of coming out issues including, but not limited to, self-acceptance, faith, divorce, custody and extended families. The lead actresses and entire cast were committed to an honest portrayal and the iconic novella writer, Manoel Carlos, was willing to write a history-making script that would significantly and positively alter perception of same-sex relationships. Instead, Globo has censored this promising story and has taken it down a very disappointing and homophobic path.

How Globo Failed

By casting Giovanna Antonelli as Clara it looked like Globo created the perfect opportunity to teach Brazil what a healthy, same-sex relationship looks like. As one of the most popular and influential actresses in Brazil, she has support all over the country from all layers of the population and in the public’s opinion she can do no wrong. Together with Tainá Müller as Marina, the two have portrayed the process of falling in love with someone of the same gender with beautiful realism and generated a chemistry rarely seen on any television screen, making this story extremely believable and because of that, incredibly relevant. They quickly became more popular than the show’s main couple and seemed destined to become one of the most important and influential LGBT stories. Broadcaster Globo possessed the ideal medium to bring messages straight into conservative living rooms all over the country and had the ideal candidate that could change minds and create a better LGBT environment. Globo chose to waste it.

Kisses and intimate scenes had been scripted by Globo previously, but were ultimately edited out at the last minute or never recorded. According to Forbes, Globo has bowed down to conservative pressures and back-paddled on decisions to air homosexual content on at least five different occasions. Writers at Globo have even been “verbally warned” not to create gay plotlines. It was only in January of 2014 that Globo aired its first ever same-sex kiss on scripted television. This kiss between two men aired in the very last episode of the series, likely due to fears that an earlier kiss would have led to a boycott, even though the kiss was received very positively. Unfortunately, Globo has chosen the same direction for the Clarina storyline. Tension between the two ladies had become so charged that postponing a kiss was close to ridiculous. Globo, which had previously remained silent on the topic, finally announced that a kiss would be shown; however, it would appear in the final week of the novela. With the end of Clara’s marriage and the freedom to embark on their own relationship, how would Globo avoid airing the climactic first kiss they had been building towards since the first episode? The day Clara’s husband moved out, the show introduced a time skip that pushed all the stories ahead several months. The only storyline radically changed by the time skip was the one between Clara and Marina.

Suddenly, when the caption read ‘months later,’ the two women were already in a relationship, but still shared nothing more than glances, hugs, handholding and after a few weeks a very chaste peck, popular couples continued to share steamy love scenes night after night. The audience is to believe they have kissed and made love, but this occurred off-screen, and viewers wouldn’t be seeing any of it. Even the first kiss, the most important one, viewers can only imagine how amazing it would have been. Globo itself claims there is no taboo, so why does it refuse to show any kind of realistic kiss or love scene between them as though it is a forbidden subject?

Let down by the network are young LGBT Brazilians struggling with questions about their own sexuality. They desperately need someone or something to reassure them of their feelings and to ensure that their sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of. By censoring scenes of affection between same-sex couples, Globo sends the message that being gay is shameful and something that deserves to be hidden away from others. Even though Globo proudly claims, “the network allows viewers to see themselves in programming...” it has not represented LGBT characters with equality. “Julio Moreira, president of the gay rights group Arco-Iris, told the Extra newspaper. ‘Gay people have always been portrayed as marginal [characters] or in some negative way.’” Globo treats them as stereotypes and background characters without romance.

Globo’s Motives

So why waste this opportunity to make such a significant change? Like so many television networks - it appears that Globo has succumbed to its fear of losing advertising revenue. The threat of an Evangelical boycott drove the show to decide to air its same-sex kiss between Clara and Marina in one of the very last episodes, safe and risk free. Instead of building on the progress made by the male couple back in January, it fears this female kiss will cost them sponsors and eventually impact profits.

Globo and their sponsors ultimately share responsibility for failing to support accurate portrayals of LGBT people – portrayals that could offer a counter message to the nationwide epidemic of homophobia that torments both young and old struggling with their sexuality. They continue to treat the LGBT community like second-class citizens. Profits are the reason the network and advertisers are choosing to keep prejudice alive. This cannot be allowed.

Our Conclusion

We wanted to call your attention to this story and to this moment in Brazil because we believe the country is on the brink of a breakthrough. The LGBT community continues to fight for equality despite opposition from the powerful Evangelical movement. Globo absolutely has the resources to make a positive difference in the LGBT struggle for full inclusion but it continues to put profits before people.

That’s why an amazing number of people from across the Globe have united to challenge Globo. Thousands of fans have taken to Twitter to trend messages (often worldwide) every single day for the past several months, they have organized mass emails to Globo, and developed video compilations with heartfelt statements from all around the world about the positive impact of this story all in hopes that this giant among the networks will display the relationship without prejudice.

They have heard us, but they haven’t listened yet. The continuous noise from fans has Globo’s attention and they have attempted to throw a proverbial bone now and then, yet what they have offered is not fully authentic and falls short of an accurate and honest portrayal of a same-sex partnership.

We believe that if prominent international media or organizations call out the inequality in messaging, then Globo will listen and change.


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