Thousands of evangelical Christians rallied in Brasilia to protest against a legal ruling allowing gay marriage and against an anti-homophobia bill they said limits freedom of expression.
It was the second such demonstration in less than two weeks to defend “the traditional family” and oppose abortion and homosexuality.
Wednesday’s Brasilia protest was called by Pastor Silas Malafaia of the Assembly of God church, who organized a similar demonstration which, according to police, was attended by 100,000 people in Rio late last month.
On May 14, Brazil became the third Latin American country to give a de facto green light to same-sex marriage when a panel overseeing its legal system headed by the chief Supreme Court justice said that offices issuing marriage licenses had no standing to reject gay couples.
The ruling sparked outrage among mostly Catholic Brazil’s fast-growing Evangelical Protestant community.
“This is a historic day… We are here in support of the family made up of a man and a woman. We will not allow this country to sink into immorality,” said Fad Faraj, pastor of Brasilia’s Faith Ministry.
Organizers had expected 100,000 to turn up but only around 6,000 did so, according to police.
Participants heard fiery speeches by evangelical pastors railing against abortion, homosexuality and a bill that would impose harsher punishment for homophobia.
“I am here to demand respect for the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, because there is a bill that would criminalize the defense of the traditional family,” said demonstrator Eudes Carneiro, 34.
Brazil, with a population of around 194 million, has the largest number of Catholics in the world, but Evangelical Protestant churches have been making steady inroads.
The percentage of Catholics has declined from 74 percent of the population in 2000 to 64.6 percent in 2010, while that of Evangelical Protestants has soared from 15.4 percent to 22.2 percent.
Source – France 24