Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil sex education material suspended by President

People take part in the 2nd Gay Parade Against Homophobia in Brasilia on 18 May 2011
Gay rights campaigners expressed concern about the ban on the films

President Dilma Rousseff has suspended the distribution and production of sex education films for schools in Brazil.

President Rousseff believes the footage is not suitable for youngsters.

The education packs contain gay and lesbian video scenes and are supposed to combat homophobia.

However, evangelical church groups and their allies in Congress threatened to block any upcoming legislation unless President Rousseff halted the films.

'Anti-homophobia kits'

A government spokesman said President Rousseff had viewed the material personally and decided to suspend its distribution.

"She didn't like what she saw," Gilberto Carvalho said.

He said President Rousseff was unhappy with the footage and believed it did not offer an objective picture of homosexuality.

The "anti-homophobia kits", as they are known in Brazil, were about to be rolled out by Brazil's ministry of health and the ministry of education.

Several members of Brazil's chamber of deputies with strong evangelic Christian beliefs said the sex education packs encouraged homosexual behaviour.

Gay and lesbian rights campaigners have expressed serious concerns.

A leading rights campaigner and congressman, Jean Wyllys, said the decision called into question President Rousseff's commitment to human rights.

"I voted for her in the last elections," he said, "because I thought she would defend the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens."

"If she doesn't do a U-turn and change her mind, I will urge all gay people not to vote for her again."

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