An army sergeant who revealed that he was gay in an interview with a national news magazine at the weekend, has been arrested by Brazilian military.
There is no question of discrimination, says the ministry of defence. Adding that the sergeant is to be questioned about alleged desertion from the military.
Sgt Laci Marinho de Araujo, who suffers from ill-health, was moved from a Sao Paulo hospital to the capital Brasilia. And Human rights groups say they are concerned about his welfare.
Sgt Laci Marinho de Araujo and his partner, another sergeant in the Brazilian army, featured on the front page of Epoca magazine.
In the interview they talk openly about living together as a gay couple.
They had been in a stable relationship for 10 years, said the two soldiers.
While they were taking part in a television interview on Wednesday, military police surrounded the TV station until Sgt de Araujo came out, and they arrested him.
Country’s first national gay rights’ conference
The army says the sergeant is accused of desertion as he was recently absent from his unit. He also says that he is being treated for a variety of medical problems including multiple sclerosis.
They called in desperation asking for help, says a human right group that has been in contact with the couple and is concerned for his welfare.
Sgt Laci Marinho de Araujo’s arrest happened just as Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was due to address the country’s first national gay rights’ conference, that is taking place over the next four days.
The event has been hailed as historic by president Lula’s government.
Despite staging what is thought to be the biggest gay pride demonstration in the world in Sao Paulo, which attracted an estimated three million people this year, gay groups in Brazil say they still face enormous problems of discrimination and violence.
More than 2 800 people were killed in Latin America’s largest country between 1963 and 2007, because of their sexual orientation, say activists.