Ecuador shocked by inhumane practices at gay conversion clinics

France 24
|
July 29, 2013
Issues: 

Sent to a center offering to "cure" her attraction to women, Denisse Freire was raped and tortured -- in a practice Ecuadoran authorities admit has been tolerated for too long.

The country of 15.8 million people has at least 80 unlicensed drug and alcohol rehab clinics, many that are also used for anti-gay conversion therapy, Health Minister Carina Vance, who is openly gay, said.

Two people, admitted for addiction issues, died last year at the clandestine centers, she told foreign reporters at a press conference, adding that authorities have begun to crack down.

At these centers, "we have reports of physical attacks, the use of ice water on inmates," Vance said.

"We have lesbians who have reported what the clinics called 'sex therapy,' but which consists of being raped by men," the minister said.

Freire, now 25, was just 15 when her mother discovered her in her room with a female schoolmate.

Outraged, she sent her daughter to a "Christian camp" in a remote area in southeastern Ecuador.

There, Freire said, "they tortured me with electric shocks, didn't let me bathe for three days, gave me almost nothing to eat, hit me a lot, hung me by my feet.

"They told me it was for my own good."