Brazil is Finding a “Gay Cure”

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Jaelynn Hart / Staff Writer

If you identify as homosexual in Brazil, congratulations! You can now call into work sick, as they have just categorized homosexuality as an illness.

A Brazilian federal judge, Waldema de Carvalho, overturned a 1999 Federal Council of Psychologydecision that banned the largely discredited practice of conversion therapy, forbidding psychologistsfrom offering widely discredited treatments which claimed to “cure” gay individuals. This decision wasbrought about in favor of Rozangela Justino, an evangelical Christian and psychologist, whose license was revoked in 2016 after she offered conversion therapy. In a 2009 interview, Justino claimed she sawhomosexual people as “diseased” and advised them to seek religious guidance, stating, “I feel directed by God to help people who are homosexual.” She has kindly offered to “convert” gays to heterosexuality.

The president of the Federal Council of Psychology and a psychologist based in São Paulo, Rogério Giannin, has stated, “There is no way to cure what is not a disease. It is not a serious, academic debate; it is a debate connected to religious or conservative positions.”

Unfortunately, not everybody shares Giannin’s views. Evangelicalism and right-wing politics are on the rise in Brazil and most lawmakers seem to side with Marcelo Crivella, a former evangelical minister and the current mayor of Rio de Janeiro; he has called homosexuality a “terrible evil” and claims it’s caused by botched abortions. Homophobic rhetoric from lawmakers has empowered opponents of equality and made the fight for queer rights in Brazil a mountainous struggle. Despite the thriving gay tourism scene and the fact that they legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, Brazil remains one of the most dangerous places for people of LGBT+ to live; on average, one transgender or gay Brazilian dies per day.

Dr. Daniel Linhares, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, compared this legislation to allowing a doctor to prescribe cigarettes. “What is proven to help our patients is to help them accept who they are. Conversion therapy starts from the assumption that you should not accept who you are and enforces the message we are trying to change.”

The queer community and allies in Brazil are rightfully horrified by another regression to the progress made in recent decades. Many took to Twitter and other social media outlets using the hashtag #curagay (translating to “gay cure”) to express their outrage and ridicule the decision.

Brazilian popstar Anitta posted on Instagram, “That’s what happens in my country. People dying, hungry, the government killing the country with corruption, no education, no hospitals, no opportunities… and the authorities are wasting their time to announce that homosexuality is a sickness. Homosexuals and bisexuals now have a treatment for this “sickness” here. So I ask… who is the real sick person here?”

Anything that is a discrimination is the real disease.

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