Scores of unlicensed gay cure therapies in Ecuador beat and rape LGBTI people to rid them of their homosexuality.
Disguised as rehab clinics, local rights groups say the practice still goes on, despite homosexuality being legal since 1997.
Cayetana Salao from LGBTI rights group Taller de Comunicacion Mujer, said: ‘It’s a reality,’ reports Thomson Reuters Foundation.
‘Corrective therapy, in mostly private and clandestine alcohol and drug addiction clinics, continues in Ecuador,’ she said.
The practice gained international attention in 2012, after the clinics first emerged. It was going on for almost 10 years before any international outcry.
As a result, All Out and Change.org campaigned for their immediate outlaw. The petitions garnered 178,000 signatures and then 207 clinics across the country closed down.
‘Force-feeding, beatings and corrective rape’
But the practice still continues in illegal underground rehab centres, or gay conversion ‘mafia’.
Most patients entering the gay cure therapies are lesbians, committed by parents or other family members.
Upon their escape, detainees detailed human rights abuses including electroshock therapy and raping by men.
Last year, photo artist Paula Paredes created a collection focusing on the epidemic, entitled Until You Change. She said: ‘Imprisoned against their will, those interned are subject to emotional and physical torture, through force-feeding, beatings and corrective rape.’
Paredes interviewed people who had experienced the gay cure therapies firsthand.
She said: ‘These images allow us to see what was never meant to be seen.
‘The perversion of pills and prayer books; the regime of forced femininity in make-up, short skirts and high heels; torture by rope or rubber gloves; the specter of “corrective” rape.’
She also said: ‘A significant part of Ecuador’s population does not speak openly about it. If they do, it is with a sense of shame, mockery and abnormality. This prevents society from becoming tolerant and accepting of the LGBTI population.’
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