Brazil LGBTQ group avoids coronavirus in Copacabana’s Casa Nem building

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07/13/2020

In a courtyard a few blocks from Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach, a dozen people get settled on broken couches beneath a banner reading “Cure Your Prejudice.” They face the makeshift stage where a transgender woman appears in a short, tight dress and performs to a song about transgender visibility. It’s a standard Saturday night in coronavirus times at the squat known as Casa Nem. The six-floor building is home to about 50 LGBTQ people riding out the pandemic behind closed doors. They receive food donations and are barred from leaving unless facing medical emergency or other exceptional circumstances. Self-imposed lockdown is one of few ways this traditionally marginalized group has found to minimize COVID-19 risks, while others remain vulnerable on the streets. “Based on the experience we had during the AIDS epidemic, when we were accused of being the vector of the virus and were left to die, we are now protecting the community,” said Indianara Siqueira, 49, a transgender sex worker and activist who leads Casa Nem.

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