A campaign by women’s and LGBT groups in Ecuador seeking the closure of 200 illegally-operating forced-confinement clinics whose purpose is to attempt to change the orientation of LGBT people is quickly gaining momentum as well as international attention.
Leading these efforts are LGBT advocacy organization Fundación Causana and lesbian organizations Taller de Comunicación Mujer and Artikulación Esporádika, along with a coalition of other Ecuadorian and international LGBT, women’s and human rights organizations, including AllOut and CLADEM (Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights). Although local organizations have been aware about the existence of these so-called clinics--which have primarily targeted lesbians--for years, it was not until this year, when 28-year-old Paola Ziritti started speaking out about her experience after filing the first formal complaint against these so-called clinics, that greater public outcry and media attention began to emerge.
Ziritti's mother spent one year trying to free her daughter from the facility in which she spent almost two years in captivity (three months of which she was shackled in handcuffs while guards threw water and urine on her). Once free, Ziritti spent 6 months receiving treatment to deal with the trauma as a result of enduring psychological and physical violence. “These girls have all said the same thing: they are raped or threatened with rape, handcuffed, starved, and forced to dress like prostitutes,” said Tatiana Velásquez from Taller de Comunicación Mujer in an interview with French LGBT magazine Têtu. It is worth noting that there is a noticeable lack of coverage in mainstream U.S. and Latin American press. For coverage in U.S. online media, see articles in The Advocate, Huffington Post, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Hispanically Speaking News and Instinct Magazine
In August, Ecuadorian groups successfully petitioned the federal government to close 27 of these centers, but 207 remain in operation.
For more information, please visit Fundación Causana and AllOut’s petitions (in both English and Spanish) to get the Ecuadorian federal government to take action. To date, Fundación Causana's petition on Change.org has received over 90,000 signatures; and AllOut has received over 50,000.