|Protesters in Sao Paulo demonstrate against a Brazilian judge's decision to overturn a ban on gay conversion therapy. (Nelson Almeida / AFP/Getty Images)|
From the Los Angeles Times by Jill Langlois--
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in downtown Sao Paulo on Friday to protest a court’s recent decision to overturn an 18-year ban on conversion therapy meant to “cure” gay people.
Chants of "it's not a disease" could be heard over songs including Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" as protesters flew rainbow flags and held banners demanding human rights be respected.
"We have to help people understand that this decision wasn't something small," said Carlos Daniel, one of the demonstration organizers. "These types of thoughts are what get us killed here in Brazil every day. We are dehumanized and treated like objects. We have to show everyone that we exist and that the future is ours."
The challenge to the ban — which was instituted in 1999 by Brazil’s Federal Council of Psychology — came in a lawsuit this year from Rozangela Justino, a psychologist and evangelical Christian who had her license revoked in 2016 for offering the therapy and referring to homosexuality as a “disease.”
Ruling in her favor last week, Judge Waldemar de Carvalho wrote that people who want help in relation to their sexuality should not be prevented from voluntarily pursuing the therapy.
The judge has since released a statement saying that his ruling was misunderstood and that he does not believe homosexuality is a disease. He did not address the fact that experts have deemed the therapy ineffective and harmful.
The Federal Council of Psychology said in a statement that the decision “opens the dangerous possibility of the use of sexual reversion therapies.”
“We consider it a huge setback to need to reaffirm, in the 21st century, that homosexuality is not a disease, disorder or perversion,” it continued. “Brazilian psychology will not be an instrument to promote suffering, prejudice, intolerance and exclusion.”
A joint statement issued in 2015 by 12 United Nations agencies called for an end to “unethical and harmful so-called ‘therapies to change sexual orientation.’” The World Psychiatric Assn. also condemned such treatment, calling it “wholly unethical.”
Brazil is far more liberal than many other Latin American countries when it comes to sexuality and gender.
It legalized same-sex marriage in May 2013 in a 14-1 vote by the National Justice Council — a public institute that serves as a watchdog of the judicial system — that banned public notaries from refusing to perform such ceremonies and required them to convert existing civil unions to marriages upon request.
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