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The challenges and threats faced by human rights defenders in Brazil remain very high, particularly for those working on issues of land, environment, indigenous peoples, LGBTi rights, corruption and impunity. Many HRDs have experienced death threats, physical attacks, arbitrary arrests and lawsuits. The high number of killings is of particular concern and takes place against a background of widespread impunity.

Brazil also continues to be an extremely dangerous place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTi) rights defenders as it maintains the top position in the world ranking of homophobic murders, registering 44% of all killings worldwide. Despite hosting one of the biggest annual Pride Parades in the world and the Supreme Court having recognised equal rights for same-sex couples, the state has yet to enact policies and laws that criminalise homophobic crimes.

Although Brazil has been one of the pioneer countries in creating a National Protection Programme for Human Rights Defenders, it continues to face challenges with many HRDs finding its model unsustainable and prone to weaknesses. Another issue which human rights defenders have been facing concerns an anti-terrorism bill that could potentially criminalise social movements and unduly restrict fundamental freedoms as a result of a broad definition of the crime of terrorism, as well as due to the exclusion of a previous article that established an important safeguard by saying that the participation in political demonstrations and social movements would not fall under the legislation’s scope.