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More trans candidacies than ever

Brazil is one of the deadliest countries for LGBTQI people. Although homophobia and transphobia are considered a crime, marriage is for everyone, gay and lesbian couples are allowed to adopt children and trans people can change their gender in their passport, the tolerance for alternative roles and gender images is low - especially outside the big cities.

Every year hundreds of LGBTQI people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) are killed in the land of macho culture and ultra-conservative evangelical free churches. According to various human rights organizations, this makes Brazil the sad leader at least among the countries for which data are available.

Activists and advocates of equality are all the more pleased that the number of transgender candidacies - i.e. people who do not identify or only identify with their biological gender - has more than tripled compared to the local elections four years ago.

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According to figures from the "Associação Nacional de Travestis e Transexuais" (ANTRA), 281 trans people are applying for municipal posts, two of them as mayor and one as deputy mayor. In 2016, according to the non-governmental organization, only 89 trans people were lined up.

A little more women, a little more non-whites

Brazil's highest electoral court itself only differentiates between female and male in its information about the candidates. Accordingly, a good third of the 557,000 applicants are (biological) female, and almost two thirds are (biological) men. This means that the proportion of women is 1.7 percentage points higher than in the 2016 local elections.

Another change occurs when looking at skin color or ethnicity. According to the electoral court, 51.3 percent of the candidates define themselves as "pardo" (brown), "preto" (black), "indígena" (indigenous) or "amarelo" (Asian). This is slightly more than in previous years - and according to the media, this is the first time that non-white candidates are in the majority. In a country where 51 percent of the people have African roots and where racism is still widespread, this is not insignificant.

Trans candidates from left and right

One of the two nationwide trans-candidacies for mayor is that of Letícia Lanz. The trans woman wants to head Brazil's eighth largest city, Curitiba, in the south of the country. The 68-year-old sociologist, who is married to a woman, explains on Facebook: "I not only want to win your voice, but also your heads, your hearts and your hands."

While Lanz competes for the left-wing party "Partido Socialismo e Liberdade" (PSOL), there are also trans candidates from other political camps. The second trans person to apply for mayor's office in Brazil is Bianca Biancardi from the "Partido da Mulher Brasileira" (PMB), the "Party of Brazilian Women". Behind the name is not, as one might think, a feminist party, but a right-wing party. Biancari, who runs a beauty salon in the southeastern city of Cariacica with just under 400,000 inhabitants, recently stated in an interview that she is a Christian and represents conservative opinions.

"Bolsonaro has gay friends"

When asked about the prejudices of many conservatives and especially of the right-wing populist President Jair Bolsonaro against trans people, the trans woman said: "If so, it will have been years since Bolsonaro expressed himself critically. If he really had problems with trans people , if he had not had Family Minister Damares Alves run a national project to improve LGBTQI's chances in the labor market. "

The project actually exists - and yet stands out as the only commitment of the controversial minister to the LGBTQI community. Before that, the evangelical pastor tended to talk about herself with statements such as that girls should wear pink and boys blue.

Family Minister Damares Alves: "Bolsonaro also has gay friends."

Alves, who is responsible for protecting minorities, has also defended Bolsonaro against allegations of homophobia and transphobia. "They call him homophobic, but he has gay friends. And he values ​​this ministry that has an LGBT section," she said last year. Whether she was able to convince with this argument remains to be seen.

More evangelical candidates too

Local elections in Brazil always take place two years after the presidential elections - and are also perceived as a barometer of sentiment for national politics. Part of the truth about this year's vote is that according to media calculations, 34 percent more evangelical candidates will be on the ballot on Sunday than four years ago.

However, a failure at the polls is currently assumed for the Christian fundamentalist camp. Important candidates of the "Republicanos" for example - the political arm of the evangelical "universal church" - like Celso Russomanno in São Paulo are threatened with setbacks on Sunday. Rio de Janeiro's ultra-conservative mayor and evangelical bishop Marcelo Crivella is also likely to be driven out of office after a series of corruption scandals and maladministration.

Violence leads to politicization

For the first time in these local elections, trans candidates are also allowed to use their "social name" - whatever they want to be called according to their gender identity. 171 candidates took advantage of this option.

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Keila Simpson, President of the NGO ANTRA, also attributes the fact that so many more trans people ran for elections in 2020 than before to the violence they experience. In May alone, 38 trans people were murdered in Brazil, according to Simpson in the Spanish newspaper "El País". "That's why there is a political awakening in the community. Trans-bodies are already political in themselves, but to run for office is a statement against anyone who wants to banish them to the margins of society."