Brazilian squatters offer shelter from anti-gay violence

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Brazilian squatters offer shelter from anti-gay violence
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Brazilian squatters offer shelter from anti-gay violence
Rodrigo (R), 26, Wam (C), 24, and Teflon, 19, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community who have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, relax in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, spend time in the building, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 3, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Fernando, 24, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, poses for a portrait, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.?
Rodrigo, 26, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, poses for a portrait, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Safira, 25, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, swings around a pole in Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Men look at Gaby, 18, Natalia, 20, Fernanda, 20, and Aleksander, 23, who are among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, walk on a street in Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Teflon, 19, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, removes trash together with others, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Gaby, 18, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, puts on make up, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Teflon (L), 19, and Gaby, 18, who are among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, sit on a sofa, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A photograph of the grandmother of Teflon, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, lies in Teflon's suitcase, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Teflon (L), 19, and Jorge, 31, who are among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, carry water bottles, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A rainbow flag is seen inside a building where members of the roofless movement have recently been joined by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people seeking refuge from discrimination and hate crimes, in downtown Sao Paul, Brazil, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, watch TV, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, spend time at Franklin Roosevelt Square in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Safira, 25, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, applies body lotion, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Luciana Jesus Silva (L), 45, a bisexual woman, who is an organiser of the roofless movement, combs hair of her daughter Eloisa, 16, at a building that the movement has occupied in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Patricia (R), who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, eats, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Fernanda (L), 20, and Aleksander, 23, who are among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, sit on a makeshift sofa, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A baby looks at Gaby, 18, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, inside a kitchen, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A building where members of the roofless movement have recently been joined by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people seeking refuge from discrimination and hate crimes, stands in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Fernanda, 20, Rodrigo, 26, and Teflon, 19, who are among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, stand at an entrance of the building, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Safira, 25, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, kisses a man during an event of Arouchianos collective project at Arouche Square in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Silvana, Vitor, Teflon, Fernando and Fernanda, who are among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, stand outside the building, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Teflon, 19, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, poses for a portrait, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Jorge (2nd R), 31, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and his brother Paulo, 28, (R) laugh at Arouche Square in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Wam, 24, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, decorates a Christmas tree with the help of David, 5, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Jorge (C), 31, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, teaches children to draw, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Manauara, 24, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, poses for a portrait, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, stand after collecting donations of fruit and lettuce from the municipal market, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A child, relative of a member of the roofless movement who lives together with members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the movement has occupied, sleeps, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rodrigo, 26, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, washes his face, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rodrigo (L), 26, and Wam, 24, who are among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, shake blankets, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rodrigo, 26, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, carries a box of fruit after collecting donations of fruit and lettuce from the municipal market, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Safira, 25, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, looks in a mirror, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Vitor, 21, who is among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, that have been invited to live in a building that the roofless movement has occupied, poses for a portrait, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Gaby (L), 18, Vitor (C), 21, and Pamela, who are among members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, dance during an event of Arouchianos collective project at Arouche Square in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "LGBT BRAZIL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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BOSTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - A multi-colored gay pride flag hangs in a corner of a bare room in an abandoned Sao Paulo art deco building that was once the headquarters of Brazil's social security agency.

The room is home to several members of Brazil's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community seeking refuge from discrimination and hate crimes against LGBT people.

SEE ALSO: Complaint about pride flag sparks amazing neighborhood reaction

They were invited to join some 300 squatters who have been living in the building for several months in an occupation organized by Front in the Fight for Housing, an activist group promoting rights of some 400,000 people without decent housing in Sao Paulo.

"The occupation is a space where we can feel safe," Rodrigo, a tall shaven-headed gay man says as he strokes his black beard. "In the LGBT movement, we just want to live our lives and that means not having to be afraid of who is behind you."

Brazil has one of the world's highest rates of LGBT hate crimes, despite a reputation for sexual tolerance. The country recognized same-sex marriage in 2013 and hosts some of the world's largest gay pride festivals.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International say homophobic violence is endemic in Brazil, where there were 326 murders in the community in 2014.

Some Evangelical pastors, who are becoming increasingly popular in Brazil, have adopted overtly homophobic rhetoric.

Luciana Jesus Silva, a bisexual woman and organizer of the occupation, asked the FLM to offer space to LGBT people after she learned that one of her gay friends had been hospitalized after a hate attack only to have his mother throw him out of the house, saying he was the work of the devil.

"We who are the most marginalized and repressed by society have to stand together," said Silva, 45, a mother of four.

More than two dozen LGBT people have joined the occupation, though many more come.

The occupation of several buildings in central Sao Paulo has lasted several months because of a Brazilian law that makes it hard to evict squatters. The Front in the Fight for Housing offers families an escape from violence-plagued slums that ring the metropolis.

Rodrigo lounges on a mattress with Wam, 24, and Teflon, 19, whose colorful turban and brightly patterned clothing strike a contrast with the drab abandoned apartment.

They stage an impromptu fashion display. He strikes a pose, with his arms languidly outstretched like the wings of a crane, his legs crossed. Makeup and clothes are an act of defiance for some LGBT people.

Jorge, 31, teaches drawing to the children in a vacant apartment. Gaby, 18, cooks dinner in a large communal pot from which residents are served. With scant furniture in the building, some eat standing up or sitting on the floor.

In the evening, Rodrigo and his friends head to Arouche square in downtown Sao Paulo, a gathering point for the LGBT community.

Gaby does her makeup in the dimly lit room before going out. Rodrigo, Teflon and Fernando don high heels and flowing robes, their appearance turning heads on the graffiti-marred streets.

The small square, marked by a lamppost adorned with a gay-pride flag, is a place to make friends, share experiences and discuss gay rights.

"It's not my fault that I live in a society with an empty heart and mind," laments Fernanda, a 20-year-old black transgender woman.

She says her appearance makes finding a job almost impossible.

"It's harder being trans than being gay because if you're gay you still have a masculine appearance," she says. "My appearance is my own creation."

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