Some 310 deaths in anti-gay violence in Brazil last year

Anti-gay violence targeted 4,851 people in Brazil last year and led to 310 deaths, according to an official report released this week.

"Although many cases are not recorded, the statistics point to a serious picture of homophobic violence in Brazil: every day of 2012, 13.2 people were victims of homophobic violence (targeting gays, lesbians, transvestites and transsexuals)," it said.

The number of recorded cases grew 166 percent compared with 2011, due to improved reporting channels but also reflecting the magnitude of the problem.

The release of the report fueled further criticism of the so-called "gay cure", the psychological treatment of homosexuality approved by a congressional human rights panel led by controversial evangelical pastor Marco Feliciano.

Feliciano is facing strong criticism from gay and human rights activists over his disparaging comments on gays and blacks.

"With these facts and the violence being reported, one cannot say that this country is not practicing homophobia," said Janaina Oliveira, vice president of the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals y transsexuals) Council.

Some of the banners waved by gay militants in the nationwide street protests that have rocked Brazil for more than two weeks have been calling for the "gay cure" to be scrapped.

Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians have been marching in scores of cities to demand upgraded public services, end to corruption and more investment in health and education rather than in sporting events such as the 2014 World Cup.