By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
SAO PAULO, June 14, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Some three million Christians marched through the streets of the Brazilian metropolis of Sao Paulo last week, only three days before the annual “Gay Parade”, chanting slogans against homosexuality and affirming their religious beliefs. The “March for Jesus”, held June 7th, was organized by a major evangelical protestant ministry in Brazil and included over thirty live bands playing religious music, many placed on top of flatbed trucks that rolled through the main avenues of the city.
One minister led the crowd, paraphrasing a traditional Latin exorcism prayer with “Vade retro, Satan!”, adding “Vade retro, homosexuality!” (Get back, Satan! Get back homosexuality!). Although the Associated Press, Reuters, and other English-speaking news services claimed that only a million people attended the march, the mainstream Brazilian press widely reported that three million attended, citing the Policia Militar (Military Police).
When questioned by the media, marchers denied hostility towards homosexuals, and expressed concern for their well-being. “Through the Bible, we know that God doesn’t agree with what they do,” members of one church group from the Vila Carrão neighborhood of Sao Paulo told the Brazilian news service G1. “We condemn their actions, and never the people. What we want is for them to know God.”
Another pastor who brought a group from his church denied that the march had anything to do with the “Gay Parade”, emphasizing the positive aspect of it: “This is a demonstration in the name of Jesus. The two have nothing to do with each other.” No violent incidents were reported during the march.
Three days later, the nation’s annual “Gay Parade” presented a stark contrast to the March for Jesus. Over one million homosexual men and women marched down the city’s main thoroughfare, many without shirts and dressed in drag outfits or wearing feathers.
They carried huge banners with the rainbow symbol that has been adopted by the international homosexual movement, and demanded an end to “machismo, racism, and homophobia”. Last year’s march resulted in the creation of a bill, currently pending in the Brazilian Congress, to outlaw all condemnations of homosexual behavior as “homophobia”. The Gay Parade organizers this year demanded that such measures be accelerated.
Unlike the March for Jesus, the Gay Parade was frequently marred by violence between participants, according to Brazilian homosexual news outlets. G Online (the web version of G Magazine, a Brazilian homosexual publication), noted that “the G Online team, which covered the event throughout the day and throughout the march route, investigated various unpleasant scenes along the avenue (see photo on left). Shoving, fights, drunkenness and thefts were common during the Parade.” The photo to the left showed a man covered in blood slumped against a car.
The Brazilian homosexual web portal, MixBrasil stated glumly that “this year, marked by violence between the parade participants, families disappeared” from the march. “Assaults, fights on every corner, thefts, pure violence…a tragedy.”
Although the mainstream media generally quoted the parade organizers’ estimate of 3.5 million attendees uncritically, both Reuters (quoted in The Australian) and the Brazilian news service Ultimo Segundo stated that the police only counted one million, while admitting that thousands more probably remained uncounted on side streets.
Also in stark contrast to the March for Jesus, this year’s Gay Parade enjoyed heavy support from government and affiliated business institutions in Brazil. Unlike Parades in years past, this year’s event was sponsored by Brazil’s state energy company, Petrobras, as well as the state-owned Caixa Economica Federal Bank.
Major government officials were present for the event, including the Governor of Sao Paulo state, Jose Serra, and the Mayor of Sao Paulo, Gilbert Kassab. The Sao Paulo city government spent over $200 million to support the event, although profits from tourists attending the event were only calculated at $67.5 million, yielding tax revenues of only $35 million.
Among the expenditures by the government was a flyer containing the program for the event, as well as advice on how to avoid diseases when using injected narcotics. At some point the organizers suspended the flyer’s distribution, apparently due to controversy.