Gay, lesbian and bisexual people are being given electric shocks, raped and beaten to ‘cure’ their sexuality in Ecuador.
More than 80 unlicensed clinics in the South American country are reportedly using these techniques, according to Carina Vance Mafla the Health Minister.
In a news conference over the weekend, the openly gay politician said at least two people had died while undergoing ‘treatment’ this year.
‘We have lesbians who have reported what the clinics called “sex therapy”, but which consists of being raped by men,’ she said.
‘We have reports of physical attacks, the use of ice water on inmates.’
According to LGBTQ Nation, Mafla added: ‘We are talking here about a mafia, a network that operates nationally in each of the provinces which are violating human rights.’
Many of the clinics pose as camps or drug rehabilitation centers, specifically targeting gay women.
Denisse Freire, 25, was sent to a ‘Christian camp’ when she was 15 after her mom caught her with another girl.
She said she was raped, tortured with electric shocks, did not allow her to bathe for three days, starved her, beat her and hung her by her feet.
‘They told me it was for my own good,’ she said.
Thankfully after two months of inhumane ‘treatments’, she escaped.
As early as June this year, Zulema Constante, 22, escaped a similar fate.
After her family sent her to ‘cure’ her of her sexuality, she says she was handcuffed and locked in a straitjacket.
‘I had to pray, they gave me food poisoning, forced me to clean toilets with my hands, and told me I was wrong to be a lesbian,’ she told reporters.
In November 2011, an Ecuadorean activist group FundacÃon Causana began a petition Change.org to close down more than 200 ‘gay cure’ clinics.
Mafla said as of March last year, 18 of these clinics have been closed for health or human rights violations but there are many, many more to go.
Earlier this year, the petition closed and was described as a success after over 100,000 people signed their name.
‘After ten years of outcry, the nation of Ecuador – through the Ministry of Public Health – has entered into a commitment with civil organizations and society in general to deconstruct the belief that homosexuality is an illness and root out the use of torture in these clinics,’ FundacÃon Causana said.
‘We extend our thanks to all the men and women who signed our petition. It has been invaluable to have this support in starting to change this reality.’