Conversion therapy is still thriving in Brazil

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11/05/2023

For a third of his life — from the age of 14 to 27 — Héder Bello, now 37, lived in purgatory. He was engaged in a fierce fight against himself, in an attempt to stop being homosexual. He tried with all his might to eradicate the attraction he felt for other boys, something that — for himself, his family and his community — made him the personification of sin, an abominable being. He suffered every imaginable form of the so-called “gay cure,” including exorcisms, fasting, self-flagellation, prayer sessions, religious retreats, Bible readings and so-called “therapy” sessions with Christian psychologists and Evangelical pastors. During those infernal years, the sole purpose of his life — what guided his existence — was to stop being gay. He was studying Psychology at the Fluminense Federal University, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, when a Christian psychologist offered him the definitive path forward: electroshock treatment. This scared Bello so much that it marked a turning point in his life. Today, the survivor of brutal conversion therapy is now dedicated to researching and combating practices that have no scientific basis — a phenomenon that persists in his native Brazil.

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