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Brazil Slow to Address Gay Murders

By Ernest Barteldes

brazil.jpg - 11.14 K Brazil's largest cities are known to be dangerous at night. In Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, those who risk going into the streets during late hours can fall prey to thieves who kill to seize victims' wallets or even their tennis shoes.

Last Monday's police chronicles noted how a group of 30 skinheads, members of a racist, anti-gay group calling themselves "The ABC Skinheads" (relating to a suburb of São Paulo) brutally murdered a 35-year-old dog trainer, Edson Neris da Silva, who'd only recently come out after attempting two conventional relationships.

Silva, after leaving a nearby bar and calling his family to say he wouldn't be spending the night at home, had been walking with his male companion, Dário Pereira, in São Paulo's Liberty Square.

Both men were suddenly surrounded by a group of skinheads who jumped them. Pereira escaped and called police, but Silva was unable to flee. Beaten into beyond recognition, he passed away only moments after receiving first aid.

Police action was, at least, immediate. Shortly after the crime, local officers raided a skinhead hangout arresting all of those present, including several minors. Seven had alibis, but twenty-three are currently behind bars.

So far, only one has confessed his participation in the murder.

Critics point out that Silva's murder was not a freak incident and that it was, in fact, a crime waiting to happen. Local media (including this writer, in a recent article for the Greenwich Village Gazette) had warned of the dangers of tolerating supremacist groups who wax violent against those they regard as inferior to themselves, including African Americans, orientals and gays.

Meanwhile, the advocates of gay and lesbian rights in Brazil and the U.S. have prepared a circular letter in English and in Portuguese protesting the unexpected acquittal of Marcio Scherer, a Brazilian model who killed gay antique dealer Joco Saboya in New York City and then fled to Brazil.

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Scherer, who, reportedly, was often paid for sexual services, traveled with Saboya to the U.S. at the latter's expense during the first semester of 1999.

While staying in the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, the couple allegedly had a row. Scherer clubbed his companion to death. After closing the door to their hotel room, he quickly boarded a plane to Brazil, avoiding an American arrest, which, after he'd been found guilty, would have meant he'd be sent to prison.

Scherer was later arrested in Brazil. Last week, despite all incriminating evidence presented by the New York police force, he was freed by the criminal court of Rio de Janeiro, a clear sign of how Brazilian impunity works, especially if the victims are minority group members. Few would be surprised if the jailed skinheads who murdered Edson Neris da Silva are ultimately freed.

The protesters' letter, addressed to both the president of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and to his minister of justice, Dr. Jose Carlos Dias, states that during 1999 there were 170 homophobic-related murders in Brazil. They ask that the country's leader "call for the immediate arrest and severe condemnation of this crime (Scherer's), before its impunity encourages similar murders."

Readers of GayToday who wish to protest Marcio Scherer's release and other such crimes that go unpunished may send messages to:

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, President of Brazil at

Dr. Jose Carlos Dias, Brazilian Justice Minister at

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