Murders of gays in Brazil have jumped 62 percent between 2007 and 2009, making the country one of the most perilous in the world for homosexuals, a gay rights association said.
The Gay Group of Bahia told the newspaper O Globo the shocking statistic should be a key issue in second-round presidential elections taking place on October 31, alongside abortion and gay marriages.
It said 198 gay murders were recorded in 2009, 187 in 2008, and 121 in 2007.
By comparison, there were just 35 gay murders registered in Mexico last year, the |group added.
Between 1980 and 2009, the association counted 3 196 murders of homosexuals in Brazil, or an average of 110 per year.
The activists criticised opposition by church groups to a draft law that would criminalise homophobia.
"Unfortunately, homophobia is one of the aspects of Brazilian society that pushes homosexuals into hiding," the group's head, Marcelo Cerqueira, told O Globo.
"Gays, lesbians and transvestites are murdered in cruel ways, generally with faces disfigured, and they end up being considered the guilty parties," Marcelo said.