A Brazilian man facing persecution in his homeland for being gay has this month been granted asylum in the United States by the US Department of Homeland Security.
The case was backed by Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic. The ruling has allowed 27-year old Augusto Pereira de Souza to escape from what he describes as a “life or death” situation.
“In Brazil, I lived in constant fear for my life,” Pereira de Souza said in a Columbia Law School press statement.
“I tried to hide that I was gay, but still faced repeated beatings, attacks, and threats on my life because I was gay.”
According to Pereira de Souza, local police did nothing to alleviate the situation.
“At times I was attacked by skinheads and brutally beaten by cops.
“After the cops attack you and threaten your life for being gay, you learn quickly that there is no one who will protect you.”
According to Brazil’s peak GLBT rights organisation, Grupo Gay da Bahia, there were 2998 reported murders of homosexuals in Brazil between 1980 and 2009.
In 2008 alone, Grupo Gay da Bahia says more than 190 GLBT people were murdered. The actual number issuspected to be much higher, with many deaths going unreported.
Pereira de Souza’s case has been going since September last year, with three students from the Sexuality and Gender Clinic providing de Souza legal assistance for his asylum application.
Columbia Law School student Rena Stern, who assisted with Pereira de Souza’s case, said attacks and murder based on sexual orientation in Brazil appear to be on the rise.
“Mr Pereira de Souza’s story is unfortunately not unusual for a gay man in Brazil.”
Now free to reside in the US, Pereira de Souza is set to settle in Newark, New Jersey.

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