Pedro Henrique Leal
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Thirteen years afterwards, September 11 still brings forth memories of terror, violence and fire; to 24 year old Solange Ramires and 26 year old Sabriny Benites, a lesbian couple from Santana do Livramento, those feelings about it are very personal. The two women were to be wed in a local Gaucho Traditions Center (CTG) on September 13, along with 27 other couples. However, at 4 a.m. two days beforehand, the so eagerly awaited marriage was threatened when the CTG was set ablaze by molotov cocktails, in what has been called ‘a terror attack’.
This attack was not random: a month earlier, when news of the wedding first came out in the small Rio Grande do Sul city bordering Uruguay, both the local judge – Carine Labres – and the head of the CTG, city representative Gilberto “Xepa” Gisler, received death threats respecting their “immorality”. Alongside these were the sadly fulfilled threats of arson. According to Gisler, an anonymous caller said, “there was no way” the wedding would be allowed to happen – even if they had to “beat the crap out of this so called ‘Xepa’, get rid of the judge and set the CTG on fire”.
To the police, the arson was a deliberate attack. To LGBT and feminist groups, the incident aims clearly to terrorize the community into silence. Legally, the arsonists face additional charges of criminal association – if they are ever identified.
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