A 21-year-old model is the latest casualty in Brazil’s epidemic of anti-LGBT murders.
Matheusa Passarelli, an art student at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, was killed in one of the favelas that dot the northern part of the city. She had been missing since April 29.
"se tiver que existir uma dicotomia entre o amor e o ódio, eu escolho o amor“. A gente tem que escolher o amor né, senão não da… Mais uma de nós. Mais uma. Matheusa Passarelli viva sua voz viverá com a gente, na nossa voz. Ecoem nossas vozes, ecoem sua voz! "Corpos estranhos em contato provocam descobrimentos e proporcionam o entendimento de outras realidades. O estranhamento não deve ser motivo para tornar negativo os julgamentos. O estranhamento precisa ser entendido como o contato com o outro, o diferente. Diferente em corpo que se fez em trajetórias individuais. Indivíduos. Vivendo em solos de controle e manipulação, sendo colocados como sociedade e por isso obrigados ao contato”” – @theusinha #lgbtfobia #umadenós #paremdenosmatar #matheusapassarelli #vivatheusinha
Squad, a casting agency that Passarelli modeled for, mourned her death on Instagram.
“We’re devastated to learn… this incredible human being who dared to question the status quo by being herself, has been executed in Rio,” read the text. “The unfairness and injustice of it has left us completely shocked and utterly sad, and our thoughts are now with her family and her sibling @gabepassareli who has been strong throughout.”
“Matheusa, wherever you are now, our work will be stronger and stronger for YOU,” the post finished. “We love you.”
We’re devastated to learn that Matheusa, this incredible human being who dared to question the status quo by being herself, has been executed in Rio. The unfairness and injustice of it has left us completely shocked and utterly sad, and our thoughts are now with her family and her sibling @gabepassareli who has been strong throughout. Matheusa, wherever you are now, our work will be stronger and stronger for YOU. We love you. @theusinha #vivatheusinha Estamos arrasados de descobrir que Matheusa, esse ser humano incrível que ousou desafiar o sistema simplesmente sendo ela mesma, foi executada no Rio. A injustiça desse acontecimento nos deixou completamente chocados e extremamente tristes, e nossos pensamentos agora estão com sua família e sua irmã @gabepassareli , que foi incrivelmente forte. Matheusa, onde você estiver, nosso trabalho vai ser cada vez mais forte, por você. Te amamos @theusinha #vivatheusinha
Passarelli identified as non-binary and members of the community believe her murder was motivated by anti-LGBT animus. Her family began a search last month but reportedly called it off so as not “to put more lives in jeopardy.”
“We had to stop the search and concentrate our energies on the [police] investigation,” wrote her brother, Gabe, on Facebook. “According to the information, my sister was executed when she entered one of the communities in the neighborhood.”
Brazil has the highest LGBT homicide rate in the world, with 387 murders in 2017 alone—or more than one a day.
That statistic has only increased as Evangelicals gain a foothold in the country. Often the killings are gruesome—decapitations, strangulations, and even stonings. Passarelli’s body was discovered badly burned.
Her death comes just two months after lesbian city councillor Marielle Franco was shot to death in what was described as a targeted assassination. President Michel Temer has approved militarizing Rio to address staggering crime and violence in the city.