by Emilee Gaebler
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
QUITO, Ecuador – Recent revelations have exposed the reality of homosexuality rehabilitation centers throughout Ecuador. Past patients of various clinics are coming forward and exposing the torture and abuse they endured in attempts to be “cured” of their homosexuality.
Paola Concha, a 28-year-old woman was placed in one of these clinics by her family back in December of 2006. Her family, who were not in support of her sexuality, had contacted a clinic called Puente a la Vida (Bridge to Life) that was promising to cure Concha of her homosexuality.
Concha was accosted at her house by workers from the clinic. She was handcuffed, beaten and forcibly taken to the clinic which is located on the outskirts of Quito. Over her three month stay at the clinic Concha was sytematically tortured in an attempt to “rehabilitate” her.
“I was kept in handcuffs for more than three months. I would be left without food for more than three or four days. They would handcuff me in a bathroom to a toilet bowl facing a toilet that was used by 60 people at the center,” said Concha.
Patients at other clinics have released stories similar to Concha’s. Paula Zirritt said that she was held at a clinic in sexual reorientation clinic in Guayaqui for two years. Zirrit remembers being kept in cuffs and that the guards would throw urine and ice water on her. Others have stated they endured both sexual and physical abuse at these clinics.
CNN reports that they visited the Puente a la Vida clinic recently, in December. A director at the clinic denied that they were attempting to change the sexual orientation of patients. He maintained the clinic’s goal was to “modify inadequate behaviors that are causing a particular individual to take inadequate attitudes.”
Ecuador’s health ministry officials are taking steps to address the situation. The government has released statements that they will actively investigate and shut down all clinics attempting to change individual’s sexual preferences. The difficulty lies in the fact that many of these clinics are hiding themselves as alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers.
This assertive campaign by the government follows a petition that garnered over 100,000 signatures around the world. The petition was set up on the website change.org and called for Ecuador’s Minister of Health to take action against these clinics. Since September of this year, roughly 30 of these “torture” clinics have been shut down.
Earlier this week a new Health Minister was appointed by President Rafael Correa. Carina Vance Mafla is the new minister. She is the former executive director for the gay rights group, Fundación Causana and an active gay rights activist.
For more information, please see;
The Washington Post – Ecuador’s Government to Crack Down on Clinics Found Using Coercion to “Cure” Homosexuals – 26 January 2012
CNN – Ecuadorian Clinics Allegedly Use Abuse to Cure Homosexuality – 25 January 2012
MSNBC – Rights Groups Hail Ecuador’s Crackdown on Lesbian “Torture Clinics” – 25 January 2012
Change.org – Victory! Ecuador Ministry of Health Investigates and Closes Ex-Gay Torture Clinics – 23 January 2012
Box Turtle Bulletin – Ecuador Closes 30 Ex-Gay Clinics – 12 September 2011