LGBT Rights Recognition in Brazil

Ana de Mello Côrtes, Lívia Gonçalves Buzolin (2024)
Sexual Research and Social Policy


How to comprehend LGBT rights recognition processes in Brazil broadly? With a little help from my friends! We, the authors of the recently published article on “Paths Towards LGBT Rights Recognition in Brazil”, were already colleagues and graduated from the same master’s program. However, it took a LawTransform Seminar and a suggestion from Siri Gloppen (to turn our presentations into an article) to make us work closer to achieve the ultimate result any scholar wishes: have their ideas published.

The article combines parts of both of our master’s theses and gathers new data on the processes that led to the recognition of LGBT rights in Brazil, the role played by civil society mobilization, and the interaction between the Federal Supreme Court and the National Congress in these processes (Côrtes & Buzolin, 2024). By the end of 2021, we mapped four Federal Supreme Court decisions and 93 bills presented from 2011 to 2020 by 83 legislators regarding LGBT rights. Secondary source interviews were also part of the article’s empirical data.

The publication addresses three main topics: (i) how LGBT rights have been recognized through courts in Brazil, (ii) what the developments in the National Congress following the decisions on LGBT rights recognition were, and (iii) the Brazilian LGBT movement’s choices aiming to achieve social change. By considering these topics, it addressed research questions on (i) the possible political responses that are drawn up in the National Congress in the context of achievements towards LGBT rights recognition through courts, (ii) how civil society organizations find paths towards social change in a complex political landscape, and (iii) the effects of the particularities of the recognition processes on the reality of LGBT rights in Brazil.

In the article, we highlight that the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court was responsible for all the LGBT rights recognized at the federal level in the country. Legislators have been unable to make bills focused on LGBT rights (pro or against) pass. Some highlights from the results show that 46.2% of the proposals on the matter are contrary to those rights, and 48.2% of the legislators who mobilize the matter are affiliated with the Evangelical Bench, an influential conservative institution in the Brazilian National Congress. Aware of the legislators’ profile, civil society organizations tend not to focus all their efforts on this arena and to take or create legal opportunities, even though the path through courts still represents several obstacles. Moreover, although the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court has shown willingness to decide on LGBT rights, the outcomes of the rulings depend on the composition of the body, which is influenced by nominations made by the president. That is, the same court Brazil has relied on to recognize LGBT rights could be responsible for denying them had it had the same powers but different members.

Reflections on how can courts bring about social transformation are one of the main research interests that gathers scholars affiliated to the Centre on Law & Social Transformation (LawTransform). It sure brought us together for this exciting new publication! So, we are especially thankful to the Centre for all the support we received during the process and invite you, reader, to access the full article here. It is open access, thanks to LawTransform and to the Project Autocratization Dynamics: Innovations in Research-Embedded Learning.


Côrtes, A. M., Buzolin, L. 
G. Paths Towards LGBT Rights Recognition in Brazil. 
Sex Res Soc Policy 
Photo: Freepik