Brazil: Stop a Proposal That Would Provide State Funding for "Conversion Therapy" Treatment in Rio De Janeiro

SUMMARY

Rio de Janeiro’s legislature is considering a proposal to provide state funds for those "who willingly opt to change their homosexuality into heterosexuality."

Two commissions from the Rio de Janeiro State Legislature have already approved a proposal by MP Edino Fonseca, who is also an Evangelical minister and has likened homosexuality to the Mafia. It will be discussed in plenary session sometime this week.

Brazil’s Ethical Code, which sets that rules of practising psychologists, forbids professionals to help their clients "move out" of homosexuality and publicly endorse evangelical ministries who support "conversion therapy."

Local organisations are asking for letters from professionals and organisations with an expertise on Health, Social Sciences and Law to denounce the proposal, and also for letters from the general public addressed to the Rio de Janeiro State Legislature MPs.

ACTION

IGLHRC joins Centro Latino-Americano em Sexualidade e Direitos Humanos - CLAM / IMS / UERJ asking for URGENT endorsement by health, social sciences and law professionals and organizations of their letter to the Rio de Janeiro State Legislature. With this endorsement, IGLHRC and local organizations underline the importance of allowing gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons to identify themselves freely, without stigma or discrimination for their mental as well as physical well-being.

Please send a message TODAY to centro@ims.uerj.br

In the Subject line, please write:
ADESÃO (endorsement)

and in the body of the message:
Your name, the institution you work for, its address, (including city, state and country)

The letter with all the signatures collected will be available at the
Latin American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights (IMS/UERJ) webpoage (www.clam.org.br) and will also be sent to the Rio de Janeiro State Legislature (ALERJ)

You can also send emails to the members of Rio de Janeiro State Legislature, at the following addresses:

Acárisi Ribeiro
acarisiribeiro@alerj.rj.gov.br
Albano Reis
albanoreis@alerj.rj.gov.br
Alberto Brizola
albertobrizola@alerj.rj.gov.br
Alessandro Calazans
alessandrocalazans@alerj.rj.gov.br
Alessandro Molon
alessandromolon@alerj.rj.gov.br
Alice Tamborindeguy
alicetamborindeguy@alerj.rj.gov.br
André Corrêa
andrecorrea@alerj.rj.gov.br
André do PV
andredopv@alerj.rj.gov.br
Andreia Zito
andreiazito@alerj.rj.gov.br
Antônio Pedregal
antoniopedregal@alerj.rj.gov.br
Aparecida Gama
aparecidagama@alerj.rj.gov.br
Aparecida Panisset
aparecidapanisset@alerj.rj.gov.br
Armando José
armandojose@alerj.rj.gov.br
Aurélio Marques
aureliomarques@alerj.rj.gov.br
Caetano Amado
caetanoamado@alerj.rj.gov.br
Carlos Minc
carlosminc@alerj.rj.gov.br
Cida Diogo
cidadiogo@alerj.rj.gov.br
Cidinha Campos
cidinhacampos@alerj.rj.gov.br
Comte Bittencourt
comtebittencourt@alerj.rj.gov.br
Coronel Jairo
coroneljairo@alerj.rj.gov.br
Coronel Rodrigues
geraldorodrigues@alerj.rj.gov.br
Domingos Brazão
domingosbrazao@alerj.rj.gov.br
Doutor Ogando
doutorogando@alerj.rj.gov.br
Edino Fonseca
edinofonseca@alerj.rj.gov.br
Edmilson Valentim
edmilsonvalentim@alerj.rj.gov.br
Edna Rodrigues
ednarodrigues@alerj.rj.gov.br
Edson Albertassi
edsonalbertassi@alerj.rj.gov.br
Eider Dantas
eiderdantas@alerj.rj.gov.br
Eliana Ribeiro
elianaribeiro@alerj.rj.gov.br
Ely Patricio
elypatricio@alerj.rj.gov.br
Fábio Silva
fabiosilva@alerj.rj.gov.br
Fernando Paulada
fernandopaulada@alerj.rj.gov.br
Flávio Bolsonaro
flaviobolsonaro@alerj.rj.gov.br
Georgette Vidor
georgettevidor@alerj.rj.gov.br
Geraldo Moreira
geraldomoreira@alerj.rj.gov.br
Gilberto Palmares
gilbertopalmares@alerj.rj.gov.br
Gilberto Silva
gilbertosilva@alerj.rj.gov.br
Glauco Lopes
glaucolopes@alerj.rj.gov.br
Graça Matos
gracamatos@alerj.rj.gov.br
Graça Pereira
gracapereira@alerj.rj.gov.br
Heloneida Studart
heloneidastudart@alerj.rj.gov.br
Inês Pandeló
inespandelo@alerj.rj.gov.br
Jodenir Soares
jodenirsoares@alerj.rj.gov.br
Jorge Moreira Theodoro
dica@alerj.rj.gov.br
Jorge Picciani
jorgepicciani@alerj.rj.gov.br
José Nader
josenader@alerj.rj.gov.br
José Távora
josetavora@alerj.rj.gov.br
Jurema Batista
juremabatista@alerj.rj.gov.br
Leandro Sampaio
leandrosampaio@alerj.rj.gov.br
Léo Vivas
leovivas@alerj.rj.gov.br
Luiz Paulo
luizpaulo@alerj.rj.gov.br
Márcio Corrêa
marciocorrea@alerj.rj.gov.br
Nelson do Posto
nelsondoposto@alerj.rj.gov.br
Nelson Gonçalves
nelsongoncalves@alerj.rj.gov.br
Noel de Carvalho
noeldecarvalho@alerj.rj.gov.br
Nubia Cozzolino
nubiacozzolino@alerj.rj.gov.br
Otavio Leite
otavioleite@alerj.rj.gov.br
Paulo Melo
paulomelo@alerj.rj.gov.br
Paulo Pinheiro
paulopinheiro@alerj.rj.gov.br
Paulo Ramos
pauloramos@alerj.rj.gov.br
Pedro Augusto
pedroaugusto@alerj.rj.gov.br
Pedro Fernandes
pedrofernandes@alerj.rj.gov.br
Ricardo Abrão
ricardoabrao@alerj.rj.gov.br
Roberto Dinamite
robertodinamite@alerj.rj.gov.br
Rogério do Salão
rogeriodosalao@alerj.rj.gov.br
Samuel Malafaia
samuelmalafaia@alerj.rj.gov.br
Sérgio Soares
sergiosoares@alerj.rj.gov.br
Uzias Mocotó
uziasmocoto@alerj.rj.gov.br
Waldeth do INPS
waldethbrasiel@alerj.rj.gov.br
Washington Reis
washingtonreis@alerj.rj.gov.br

LETTER TO BE ENDORSED: ORIGINAL IN PORTUGUESE

"Nós, abaixo assinados, profissionais das áreas de Saúde, das Ciências Sociais e do Direito, manifestamos nosso veemente repúdio ao Projeto de Lei de número 171/2003, proposto pelo deputado estadual Edino Fonseca (PRONA), que prevê financiamento público para programas de auxílio a pessoas que "voluntariamente optarem pela mudança de sua orientação sexual da homossexualidade para a heterossexualidade".

Para nós, o projeto deve ser firmemente rejeitado por nossos representantes na ALERJ, porque:

  1. Ao tratar apenas da transformação de homossexuais em heterossexuais, excluindo aqueles que desejam assumir plenamente uma orientação homossexual e não o fazem por forte pressão familiar e social, o projeto revela a incorporação sub-reptícia da idéia de a homossexualidade ser uma patologia, distúrbio ou desvio, o que contraria o pronunciamento oficial de inúmeras associações profissionais e organizações científicas em todo o mundo (Organização Mundial de Saúde, Associação Psiquiátrica Americana, Associação Psicológica Americana, Conselho Federal de Psicologia/BR, Associação Brasileira de Antropologia, entre outras);
  2. Carece, nesse sentido, de fundamentação científica, tanto do ponto de vista médico, quanto psicológico e sociológico, estando sua proposição fortemente articulada a movimentos religiosos de cunho fundamentalista que vêm procurando demonizar a homossexualidade;
  3. Contraria frontalmente os mais elementares princípios éticos, pois desconsidera o peso do preconceito, da intolerância e da discriminação social no sofrimento que algumas pessoas manifestam em relação a sua orientação ou preferência sexual, individualizando um problema que é antes de tudo social e político.

Consideramos assim que a aprovação desse projeto será um incentivo à intolerância e à violência contra homens e mulheres homossexuais e colocará nosso estado na contra-mão do amplo processo de reconhecimento dos direitos civis de gays, lésbicas e transgêneros que atualmente mobiliza no Brasil, não apenas organizações da sociedade civil, mas esferas dos poderes judiciário, executivo e legislativo federais."


ENGLISH TRANSLATION

We, the undersigned, professionals in the fields of Health, Social Sciences and Law, [are writing to] express our strong condemnation of proposed Law 171/2003, submitted by state representative Edino Fonseca (PRONA). This proposed law will provide state funding to programs that would help those who "willingly chose to change their sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality".

We call for a strong rejection of this proposal by the State Legislature for the following three reasons:

  1. By dealing only with the transformation of homosexuals into heterosexuals it leaves out those who wish to fully accept their homosexual orientation and are unable to do it because of family and societal pressure. The Proposal subtly incorporates the idea of homosexuality being a pathology, deviance or disorder, contradicting official statements by professional and scientific organizations from around the world (World Health Organization, American Psychiatric Association, Federal Council of Psychology, Brazilian Anthropology Association, among others)
  2. In this sense, the proposal lacks scientific basis –from a medical, psychological or sociological point of view. Its formulation is strongly linked to religious movements, of a fundamentalist nature, that have been trying to demonise homosexuality;
  3. The proposal goes straightforward against the most basic ethical principles, by disregarding how prejudice, intolerance and social discrimination weight in the suffering expressed by some people in relation to their sexual orientation and preferences, thus turning a problem that is basically social and political into an individual conflict.

We consider that the passage of this proposal will be tantamount to encouraging intolerance and violence against homosexual men and women, and will reverse the current course of our State vis-à-vis the broad process of recognition for the civil rights of gay men, lesbians and transgender people that is currently gaining momentum in Brazil, not only in terms of civil society organizations but also at the judicial, executive and legislative powers at the Federal level.

We the undersigned, professionals in the fields of Health, Social Sciences and Law express our strong rejection of Law Proposal 171/2003, submitted by state representative Edino Fonseca (PRONA), providing for state funding to programs that would help those who "willingly chose to change their sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality".

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Mr. Fonseca has told the media that the number of homosexuals in the state of Rio is growing due to the influence of condom manufacturers and gay movements –both of which put pressure on those who wish to stop being homosexuals. He has compared gay organisations to the Chinese Mafia "because once you get in, you are no longer allowed to leave"

The proposal was passed in December 2003 by the Constitution and Justice Commission, and by the Health Commission in April 04. Another MP with a religious affiliation, Mr. Samuel Malafaia (Asamblea de Dios), is the head of the Health Commission. The Commission stated, "Homosexuality, in spite of being accepted by our society, is a distortion of normal human nature".

Many Evangelical groups in Brazil form political parties and have been quite successful in parliamentary elections. In 2003, the number of MPs linked to Evangelical groups at the Federal level was estimated in 68.

The Ethical Code that rules the practice of Psychology in Brazil punishes those professionals who attempt to help clients to move out of homosexuality and forbids them to publicly endorse the position of evangelical ministries in that regard.

As in the Federal level and in Rio, as weel as in other Brazilian states, there is a Parliamentary Front for Freedom of Sexual Expression that brings together MPs with progressive views in terms of sexuality. The Rio Front has already expressed its disagreement with Mr. Fonseca’s proposal.

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Right to be free from discrimination is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its Articles 2 and 7, by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in its Articles 2 and 26, and by the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights in its Articles 1 and 24.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation. The UN Committee on Economic and Social Rights has made a similar observation, in its General Comment 14 on the right to health, to be applied to all economic, social and cultural rights.

Right to freedom of expression is protected by the UDHR (Article 19), the ICCPR (Article 19) and the IACHR (Article 13).

The right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is protected by the ICESCR (Article 12.1)

Brazil has ratified the ICCPR, ICESCR and IAHRC in 1992. The UDHR is considered customary law for all Member States of the United Nations, including Brazil.

The Brazilian Constitution protects the right to equality before the law and affirms the rights to "life, freedom, equality, safety…" (Article 5). Rio de Janeiro State has an anti-discriminatory law (Lei 3559) that explicitly includes sexual orientation as a protected category and mandates the State to take all necessary steps to prevent and combat discrimination.