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Ecuadorian ’Ex-Gay Torture Clinics’ Shutdown Thanks to E-Campaign

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Jan 25, 2012
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More than 100,000 people have joined an online campaign started by Ecuadorian women’s rights activists in order to shut down "ex-gay torture clinics." Ecuador’s Ministry of Health has started an investigation and is working on closing hundreds of these horrible practices.

Fundacion Causana, Taller de Comunicacion Mujer, and Artikulacion Esporadika created the campaign on the social media website Change.org after working with women who had escaped from the clinics, according to a press release.

"After years of campaigning about the practice of torture rehab clinics that claim to cure homosexuality, the Ecuadorian government has committed to deconstructing the belief that homosexuality is a sickness," said Fundacion Causana representative Karen Barba. "Using Change.org, we were able to achieve victory in closing down ex-gay torture clinics."

Before he resigned, the minister of health, David Chirriboga, said that the country would start an investigation, shut down all torture clinics, create campaigns in order to stop homophobia in Ecuador and setup phone services for victims of the clinics.

Carina Vance, the former executive director of Fundacion Causana and a popular gay rights activist, will be taking over Chirriboga’s position. Since she has been leading the Ministry, three clinics have been raided and closed resulting in several women being saved.

"The Ministry of Public Health, the governing body of Ecuador’s health sector, is committed to strengthening the measures and institutions that contribute to the eradication of abusive practices such as the supposed treatment of homosexuality," Dr. Chirriboga said. "The Ecuadorian government rejects such practices as criminal and in direct conflict with the individual freedoms granted to all our citizens."

Unlike other parts of South America, Ecuador offers some rights to its LGBT citizens. Although same-sex marriage is not legalized, the country has recognized civil unions since 2009. In 1998, Ecuador was the first country in the Americas to protect its LGBT members from discrimination by adding "sexual orientation" to its constitution.

Despite Ecuador’s steady progression on LGBT issues, many of its residents have a negative view on homosexuality. In 2000 a Gay Pride march was broken up when authorities sprayed crowds with tear gas.

Nevertheless, many Pride parades have taken place in major cities across the country without any problems. Additionally, there have been six LGBT film festivals in Ecuadorian cities in Sept. 2010.

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