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Brazil 'gay cure' bill withdrawn, could come back in 2015

A law that would have allowed a return to attempts to cure people of their sexuality has been withdrawn in Brazil after it became clear it would be voted down by lawmakers
Joao Campos.
Photo by Wellingthon Crystyan.

An extremist anti-gay lawmaker and Christian pastor in Brazil is being forced to withdraw a 'gay cure' bill.

João Campos, who authored the ‘gay cure’ bill, requested a motion to bring the legislation for a vote at Chamber of Deputies, Brazil's lower house of Congress.

The bill was controversially approved by the Brazilian congressional human rights committee.

The legislation aimed to overturning a ban by the Brazilian Psychiatry and Psychological Associations stopping professionals from treating homosexuality as a disease or a mental disorder.

Campos requested to withdraw the bill yesterday (2 July), as it became clear the legislation was going to be rejected outright by the Chamber, including by members of his own Social Democratic Party of Brazil (PSDB).

The defeat of the bill, championed by another Evangelical pastor and lawmaker Marco Feliciano who heads the Chamber’s Human Rights and Minorities Committee (CDHM), is seen an important set-back to the growing power of the Evangelical lawmakers lobby.

In the past, Feliciano has caused controversy with his anti-gay remarks, such as saying being gay is 'hateful', 'sick' and against the rule of God. He believes 'salvation is available to them' in the form of a gay 'cures'.

He is also on the record saying 'AIDS is a gay cancer' and called LGBT advocates a 'gay dictatorship'.

Feliciano has also made racist statements, such as saying: 'Africans descend from an ancestor cursed by Noah' and that is why is suffers from 'hunger, diseases, ethnic wars'.

The fight for 'gay cures' was one of the reasons why an unprecedented number of LGBT advocates participated in nationwide protests to demand the bill be revoked.

The protests are largely focused against corruption and poor public services, sparked by hike in public transportation costs in Brazil.

Gustavo Dias da Silva, who was present in the Rio protests, previously told GSN: ‘I think that protesting against the “gay cure” bill is also criticizing Feliciano and the political classes for allowing an anti-gay and racist Evangelical pastor to be elected as president of CDHM.

‘Its ridiculous that someone with this kind of mentality is elected to such a post.’

Following the protests, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff met with leading figures of the LGBT community and vowed to defend gay rights and criticized homophobic violence, although she failed to denounce specifically the ‘gay cure’ project.

In an official note, Campos stated: ‘the public opposition of my party … prevented, briefly, the possibility of [the bills] adoption.

‘On the other hand, will not allow this Chamber and government use this project to divert the focus away from the priorities of the people, as expressed in the street protests.’

The official withdrawal of the bill will require a vote in by the Chamber's lawmakers, which is certain to pass.

Congressman Jean Wyllys says the bill should be rejected outright rather than withdrawn.

He warned the withdraw was a postponing tactic and the bill could be reintroduced in 2015.

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