A bar in the city of Teresina, Brazil was issued with an administrative warning for having discriminated against a lesbian couple.

The municipality of the city of Teresina, Brazil issued a penalty notice against a bar that discriminated against a lesbian couple who attended a Valentine’s Day party at the premises.

The warning was issued by a municipal commission that investigated a formal complaint by the lesbian couple that the bar violated an anti-discrimination law.

This law has been in force since 2002, but it is the first case of its application. The law can sanction punishments from warning to significant financial penalties and even closure of an establishment found to be guilty of discrimination.

In March 2012 the Planeta Diário bar had already been ordered by Judge Manoel de Sousa Dourado to pay a fine of R$ 4,000 (£1,250) as compensation for its discriminatory behaviour towards the lesbian couple.

In June 2011 a lesbian couple identified by the initials V.A.A. and E.A.S. were attending a Valentine’s Day party in the Planeta Diário bar. According to the couple, while they were dancing they were approached by the security of the establishment and told that the owner did not accept ‘that kind of behaviour’ and were asked to leave the premises.

The couple then sought the advice of the local LGBT group Matizes who advised them to report the incident to the anti-discrimination police department, which then took the establishment to court.

Maria Jose Ventura, coordinator of the group Matizes, celebrated the action of the municipality, noting that this punishment has an educational value, because, besides raising awareness on issue of prejudice against LGBT people it also also inhibits discriminatory practices in other companies.

In a conversation with Prof. Luiz Mott founder of LGBT Rights Gay Group of Bahia about the case he stated: ‘This case of anti-discrimination is important twofold:

‘Firstly, the anti-homophobic victory occurred in a poor and macho-oriented state of Piauí, of which Teresina is the capital.

‘Secondly, victories over homophobic behavior obtained by the LGBT movements are quite rare and so we were glad to learn of this victory.’

According to Mott, the local group Matizes, headed by the lesbian lawyer Marinalva Santana, is doing exceptional advocacy work.

Mott however stresses that there is still much work ahead: ‘Brazil is the world champion of LGBT related murders: with 266 registered murders in 2011, and already 159 this year alone (figures obtained until June 2012). 53% of the murdered were gays, 41% trans and 6% lesbians.

‘While lesbians are less victimized in homicides, they suffer a lot of discrimination at home and sometimes in public spaces, as was in this case.’