Marielle Franco (Photo: Facebook)
Brazilian authorities on Tuesday (12 March) arrested two former policemen in connection with the murder of bisexual councilwoman and LGBTI rights activist Marielle Franco.
Investigators claim the two men shot Franco, 38, and her driver from their car on March 14 last year, according to the Washington Blade.
One of the men, Ronnie Lessa, fired 13 shots at the car in which Franco was sitting. Three shots in her head killed her.
Franco was a lesbian, black city councillor who spoke out for disenfranchised communities.
She had just attended an event promoting empowerment for black women when she was killed.
A militia linked to the family of Brazil’s notorious homophobic president was behind the killing, according to US journalist Glenn Greenwald.
Amnesty International welcomed the arrests. The group said it was ‘the first sign of progress in an investigation that has barely moved in the year since the killings’.
The rights group called on authorities to bring those responsible to justice.
LGBTI rights in Brazil
Brazil has witnessed a backsliding in LGBTI rights in the country.
Earlier this year, Brazil’s only openly LGBTI lawmaker Jean Wyllys announced he would quit his seat in Congress. He also fled the country.
The LGBTI activist had regularly clashed with Brazil’s far-right homophobic President, Jair Bolsonaro. He is famous for his homophobic comments.
LGBTI activists have warned Bolsonaro will usher in a new wave of terror for Brazil’s LGBTI community.
Many LGBTI Brazilians who said they were fearful for their rights and safety under the rule of the openly homophobic Bolsonaro.
Prior to the presidency, Brazil saw a spate of same-sex weddings, as same-sex couples rushed to marry before Bolsonaro took office.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013. But, many LGBTI people worry that Bolsonaro might begin rescinding LGBTI rights during his presidency.
2018 was one of the deadliest years for Brazil’s LGBTI community.
In September, Brazilian LGBTI rights group reported more than 300 LGBTI people have been murdered in Brazil in 2018. That’s from 220 by the same time the previous year.