The charred body of a homeless gay Black man has been found in an abandoned parking lot in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as the murder rate of LGBTI people in the country exceeds one per day for the first time.
Known simply as Alexandre, the victim was sleeping in a shed-like structure when it was set ablaze.
Firefighters and the Emergency Mobile Care Service, SAMU, were dispatched to the Jardim Marina neighborhood, where they discovered the burnt corpse. Friends of the victim said that he often sold dishcloths at the handicraft market in Vera Cruz neighborhood, according to Revista Forum.
"He was very friendly and considerate," said Jorge Morais, a local teacher. "It's not the first time this happened. They set him on fire about two months ago."
The kiosk where Alexandre previously used to spend the night had recently sold and the new owner had forced him to move on, Morais said. "That's why he came to live here."
The police report cites a "fire" resulting in "suspicious death" at the Mongagua Precinct. Police Superintendent Ruy de Mattos, however, insists there's no evidence the fire was a deliberate, criminal act or that it had any relationship to Alexandre's sexuality.
"We're interviewing some witnesses and can only make a determination after the investigation," Mattos said. "We need witnesses who can tell us what happened in order to confirm the motivations."
Alexandre's remains have since been taken to the Institute of Forensic Medicine.
As of September 20, a total of 277 homicides had been registered against Brazil's LGBTI community, according to Grupo Gay da Bahia, GGB. The figure is the highest registered since the group began records.
Also, for the first time, the number of deaths related to homophobia has surpassed one per day.