While LGBT folks in the U.S. deal with religious institutions that encourage so-called reparative therapy, antigay advocates in Latin America are taking that quest to a much darker level. For the past decade, lesbians in Ecuador have been forced into what they call torture camps aimed at making them straight.
When Paola Ziritti was 24, her parents sent her to a "forced confinement" clinic in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, where -- unbeknownst to her parents -- she experienced "battering, sexual abuse, deprivation of all kinds, and constant [ridicule]," according to Anne Vigna in the French magazine Tetu.
It took over a year for Ziritti's mother to free her from the torture, and another six months of "real psychological treatment ... to try to recover from his 'cure against homosexuality,'" said Ziritti, who was the first woman to agree to file a complaint against these treatments. Her testimony was crucial in helping to close the clinic that tortured and humiliated her -- and others like it, said Tatiana Velasquez, from the lesbian organization Taller de Comunicacion Mujer. Activists got the government to close 27 of these "treatment centers" in August, but there are still 207 clinics of this type, said Velasquez. "For 10 years we have been aware of 30 cases of lesbians," she said. Those are just the escapees, the un-reformed, so to speak.
In September two lesbians who escaped from two different clinics filed complaints. The international feminist organization CLADEM urged Ecuadorian officials to instigate "a serious investigation into these illegal and degrading practices and the closure of these centers."
These clinics have also imprisoned gay, bisexual, transgender, and cross-dressing people, to a lesser extent than lesbians, "probably because they get to leave the family earlier than girls," said Velasquez. "The girls have all told the same thing: They are threatened with rape or raped, handcuffed, starved and forced to dress like prostitutes."
Now human rights activists and Ecuadorian officials seem to be paying closer attention to the issue.
Read more at Tetu. Or watch this Spanish-language video which details some of the supposed "ex-lesbian" rehabilitation.