PAY ATTENTION: Сheck out news that is picked exactly for YOU ➡️ find “Recommended for you” block on the home page and enjoy!
The election of the first trans members of Congress in Brazil is "historic," but a strong showing by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies means they risk facing hostility and even violence, experts say.
In a milestone for LGBTQ rights in a country with a history of machismo and homophobia, two trans women won seats in the lower house in Brazil's elections Sunday: Erika Hilton for Sao Paulo and Duda Salabert for Minas Gerais.
"It's now possible to say: black trans woman elected!" Hilton, 29, celebrated on Twitter after her win.
But there was also troubling news for rights campaigners on election night: Bolsonaro, a hardline conservative who has regularly attacked the LGBTQ community, won 43 percent of the vote in the presidential race -- far more than predicted in polls.
And his Liberal Party (PL) won 99 seats in the lower house, more than any other party.
Hilton, currently a Sao Paulo city councilwoman, told AFP her "historic" win left her "very happy and full of hope."
PAY ATTENTION: Follow us on Instagram - get the most important news directly in your favourite app!
But she is also worried what the far-right will do with its new political muscle.
"I'm apprehensive," she said.
Salabert, for her part, cast her ballot Sunday in a bullet-proof vest, following a recommendation from the police.
She has received "five death threats in the past 30 days by email and letter," she said.
"Someone even created a website exclusively to describe the ways they wanted to kill me," the 41-year-old wrote on Twitter in September.
Brazil was the most dangerous country in the world for trans people last year, with 92 murders, according to the project Trans Murder Monitoring.
Given that context, the big wins for Bolsonaro's movement Sunday are "worrying," said Ligia Fabris, coordinator of the diversity program at the Getulio Vargas Foundation's law school.
"'Bolsonaristas' encourage the violence that trans people are victims of both in and outside of politics," she told AFP.
Keila Simpson, president of the National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals (Antra), said the president's allies are "people who do not know how to live with diversity."
In a Congress where Evangelicals and hardline conservatives hold vast sway, Hilton and Salabert "are going to suffer," she said.
In all, 18 LGBT+ candidates won election Sunday, including state and federal posts, according to the association VoteLGBT.
There were 44 percent more trans candidates in 2022 than at the last federal elections four years ago, said Antra.
Three trans women were elected to state legislatures: Linda Brasil in Sergipe, Dani Balbi in Rio de Janeiro and Carolina Iara in Sao Paulo.
Brazil is making progress on inclusion for trans people, says Fabris, citing for example a 2018 Supreme Court ruling allowing them to officially change gender without undergoing surgery or going to court.
But the sprawling South American country is also a paradox, she says: those gains have happened in tandem with a hardening of far-right hostility.
"It's a clash of two opposing forces," she said.
"The 'Bolsonarista' agenda isn't just about rolling back newly gained rights for trans people, it's about overhauling society as a whole."
Hilton is not backing down.
"We need a new progressive wing, with new ideas to change our country," she said.
"It's going to be hard work, but we're already better off today than yesterday."
New feature: Сheck out news that is picked for YOU ➡️ find “Recommended for you” block on the home page and enjoy!