A Brazilian federal judge ruled on September 15 that psychologists can legally administer gay conversion therapy. The decision sparked massive protests and international outrage, and thousands took to the streets in downtown São Paulo and Vitoria following the ruling.
Rozangela Justino, a psychologist and evangelical Christian, had her license stripped from her in 2016 due to her use of conversion therapy, a practice which had been outlawed since 1999. Dr. Justino has claimed that homosexuality is a disease that is caused by childhood trauma and believes that it is her duty to God to “convert gays to heterosexuality.” Judge Waldemar de Caravalho entertained her challenge to the ban and ruled that the practice could be administered to those who requested it voluntarily.
The Federal Council of Psychology in Brazil has filed an appeal with the judicial system against the ruling. They claim, along with scientific consensus, that conversion therapy has no scientific background and is an infringement of basic human rights. Furthermore, they assert that conversion therapy has been directly tied to an increase in anxiety, depression, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.
Despite progress in LGBT inclusivity in recent years, conservatives in Brazil have become outspoken against gay characters on television and had an art exhibit on gender and sexuality shut down this month. Brazilian celebrities, such as Ivete Sangalo and Anitta, have spoken out adamantly against the ruling. Former President Dilma Rousseff also expressed her anger in a tweet that called the ruling “barbarism in the form of a judicial sentence.”
Judge Waldemar de Caravalho released a statement arguing that his ruling has been misinterpreted and maintains that he does not think that homosexuality is a disease and denies ruling on the validity of gay conversion therapy. Instead, he re-emphasized his controversial stance that it is allowed only in voluntary situations.