This is quite a different post than I usually write. It will be short but not so sweet. It is real as there is an important issue to be addressed here in Ecuador.
I find myself in the city of Cuenca now. I am recovering from my experience on the farm and to be honest feeling quite lonely. Traveling alone provokes that sometimes. You don’t always have the company you want when you want it. Yet I try not to let my feelings take a hold of me too much, I mean in the big picture I do have so much to be happy about and to be grateful for.
One crucial element I am thankful for is the rights and recognition the LGBT community has in Canada. Of course, there is still much progress to be made as discrimination and unrest is still prevalent in certain areas and with some demographics (even in Vancouver & Toronto) but we can’t argue that it has come a long way.
In Ecuador, constitutionally, same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1997, and since 1998 has included both sexual orientation and gender identity in its constitutional prohibition against discrimination. In 2009, brought the official ‘recognition of same-sex couples’ but it’s unclear what that involves or means as same-sex couples still can’t legally marry or adopt kids. Either way, it seems that the government of Ecuador has made some important progressive gains in recent years with regards to LGBT rights.
However, laws and constitution can be a far cry from the actual reality of situations, and this is no exception. The reality is that lesbians are raped and tortured in Ecuador in ‘therapy clinics’. Gay women are sent unwillingly to “gay-to-straight conversion clinics” and typically held there for months if not years, unless they escape. An Ecuadorean activist group, called Fundación Causana petitioned to shut these clinics down in 2011 but only 27 were closed. As of 2013, 207 of these clinics still existed. Women are targeted more so than gay men because of the macho, male dominated society. In these clinics, women are handcuffed and locked up in inhumane conditions. Electric shock ‘therapy’, and ‘sex therapy’ (rape by men) are forced upon them as well as physical abuse, not to mention the psychological torture and mental trauma they endure as they are constantly ridiculed.
These are a few articles online chronicling the horrific situations in these ‘clinics’ in Ecuador.
It is important to bring awareness to such issues as these, and to bring them to the forefront. As I write this, and in the moments to follow, as you read this, fellow human beings are being tortured and incarcerated for being true to themselves and being who they are, here in Ecuador as well as many other nations.
Take a moment to honour these people. And be sure to find time to be truly grateful for the human rights and liberations you DO have. Whether you’re gay or not.
It makes my moments of loneliness seem so insignificant as I can’t imagine the isolation and fear one would feel in such incomprehensible circumstances.
I am so fortunate.