Thousands of people marched the streets of Sao Paulo yesterday (Friday 22) to protest the legalisation of “gay conversion” therapy in Brazil.
A judge overturned an 18-year ban on the practice which pretends to “cure” people of homosexuality.
Carlos Daniel, an organiser of the demonstration said that they hoped the size of the protest would “help people understand that this decision wasn’t something small”.
He added that the ruling would lead to a negative stereotype of LGBT people and increase the danger faced by the community.
“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,” Daniel said.
Protesters chanted “it’s not a disease”, flew flags and signs calling for better human rights for LGBT people in the country.
They also played iconic anthems such as Lady Gaga’s Born This Way.
Federal judge Waldemar de Carvalho overturned a ban on “gay conversion” that was put in place in 1999 by Brazil’s Federal council of Psychology.
He overturned the ban as he ruled that Rozangela Justino, an evangelic Christian psychologist, should not have had her license revoked in 2016 for offering the therapy and describing homosexuality as a “disease”.
The judge deemed that those who want help with their sexuality should not be stopped from seeking out the therapy.
He has since said that the ruling, which suggested that he too believed homosexuality was a disease, was “misunderstood”.
He clarified that he does not believe it is a disease but failed to condemn “gay conversion” therapy as a harmful practice.
The Federal Council of Psychology said that it “opens the dangerous possibility of the use of sexual reversion therapies”.
The Council pledged to contest the ruling, with president Rogério Giannini insisting they would be successful, having fought off numerous legal challenges in the past.
“There is no way to cure what is not a disease,” Giannini told the Guardian. “It is not a serious, academic debate, it is a debate connected to religious or conservative positions.”
David Miranda, one of the few openly gay politicians in the country, added that the decision was a “big regression to the progressive conquests that the LGBT community had in recent decades”.
“Like various countries in the world, Brazil is suffering a conservative wave,” he added.
Words by Meka Beresford