Brazilians demonstrate for gay rights after 'cure' controversy

Sao Paulo (AFP) –


Thousands of Brazilians demonstrated for gay rights Friday after an uproar over a judge's ruling that psychologists can administer so-called "cures" for homosexuality.

About 5,000 activists marched in central Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city and site of the world's largest annual gay pride parade. More than 1,000 turned out in Rio de Janeiro, carrying a huge rainbow-colored flag.

Violence against homosexuals and transgender people is common in Brazil. The country is the world's most deadly for transgender people, according to Transgender Europe.

On Monday Judge Waldemar de Carvalho sparked outrage when he ruled that psychologists can treat homosexuality as a disease, a process that Brazilians call the "gay cure." This overturned a previous ban by the profession.

The national psychologists' council filled an appeal, citing "the dangerous potential for the use of such sexual orientation therapies."

"Cure your hate," said one placard carried above the Sao Paulo marchers.

In Rio de Janeiro, demonstrators shouted slogans including: "I have the right to kiss whom I want."

"This ruling makes me feel sick, because loving someone is not an illness," said Isabel Almeida, 28. "Brazil is going through a conservative wave and that's why people are taking to the streets."

Leo Rosetti, a 38-year-old history professor, called the ruling "an insult."

"This judge seems to be from the 19th century or the Middle Ages. This is not acceptable in the 21st century."

But another protester, Matheus Foster, 30, said the "gay cure" ruling matched the current climate in Brazil, where evangelical politicians are increasingly powerful.

"The judge's action was very representative of the conservative time we're living in," he said. "For me it was no big deal because I have support of family and friends, but what about for those who don't?"