Brasilia, Brazil — A delegation of leaders from the predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Churches met on May 5 with The Honorable Nilmario Miranda, Brazilian Minister for Human Rights and a member of the Brazilian President’s Cabinet.
Attending the meeting were Rev. Troy Perry, Rev. Elder Armando Sanchez, and Pastor Marcos Gladstone. The MCC delegation met for 45 minutes with the Minister for Human Rights and with Ivair Santos, Special Adviser to the President for Human Rights.
The meeting, at the Brazilian National Justice Building in Brasilia. focused on human rights for LGBT people, Brazilian HIV and AIDS policies, legal protections for transgender persons, and MCC’s role in reducing discrimination and homophobia in Brazilian society.
During the meeting, Rev. Perry expressed deep appreciation for Brazil’s leadership in the United Nations and for Brazil’s nondiscrimination proposals before the UN. Brazil is the sponsor of a UN resolution that calls upon “all States to promote and protect the human rights of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation.”
The MCC delegation was the first LGBT group to meet with Brazil’s governmental leaders since Brazil withdrew its UN proposal several weeks ago. Miranda confirmed the resolution was withdrawn because sufficient votes did not exist for passage this year. Had the vote taken place and failed, the resolution could not be reintroduced into the UN for at least 10 years. In meetings with the MCC representatives, Brazilian officials pledged their firm commitment to reintroduce the UN resolution in 2005.
Brazilian officials asked a wide range of questions about Rev. Perry’s participation in the U.S. White House Conference on Hate Crimes, discussed a Cabinet-level group recently formed to combat homophobia in Brazil, and included an extensive discussion of rights and legal protections for transgender persons in Brazil.
During the meeting, participants discussed the global AIDS pandemic and Rev. Perry shared information on MCC’s role in HIV and AIDS ministry.
A key outcome of the meeting was an announcement by the Brazilian Minister for Human Rights that a national (Brazilian) conference will be convened at the end of May to address LGBT discrimination and homophobia in Brazil. The conference will include Cabinet members, political and governmental leaders, and NGOs. MCC representatives will also participate in the Brazilian conference. One purpose of the event is to draft national policies to protect the legal rights of LGBT people.
Brazilian government officials were especially interested in MCC’s history and growth, and Rev. Perry discussed the persecution MCC churches and clergy have experienced, including hate crimes, arsons, fire bombings and church desecrations.
The Brazilian Minister for Human Rights expressed a need for theological reflection as a way to assist churches and religious groups in Brazil in overcoming homophobia and asked for MCC to assist by providing advice and counsel for this purpose. He showed special interest in MCC’s work of Biblical interpretation.
At the close of the meeting, the MCC delegation presented a silver medallion for Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva The medallion contained the logo of Metropolitan Community Churches and saluted the Brazilian President — in both Portuguese and English — for his human rights leadership for LGBT people.
In a related story, the government of Brazil officially extended recognition this week to Metropolitan Community Churches as a Christian denomination authorized to establish churches and ministries within Brazil. MCC, which has had an extensive cell group program across Brazil, held dedication ceremonies for its first official church in Rio this past week.