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Gay People in Ecuador are Being 'Cured' in Secret Clinics

While Ecuador was one of the first countries to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1997, much of the older generation remains very conservative, and the LGBT community faces harsh discrimination.

MORE: Ecuador's First Transgender Senator, Diane Rodriguez is Making History & Breaking Barriers

Homosexuality is legal in Ecuador but an investigation found that gay people were being forced to undergo so-called conversion therapy in "de-homosexualization" secret clinics. For more than a decade these clinics have taken gay and lesbian people brought in by a relative to help "correct" their sexual orientation. The conversion clinics are often operated clandestinely within unregulated drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers.

Activists say they are abused, raped, and beaten, to help "cure" their mental illness through illegal treatments.

Campaigners calling for courts to deliver justice to eradicate the hundreds of unlicensed clinics once and for all.

Ecuador’s health ministry said no “conversion therapy” was found in the more than 60 clinics it has shut since mid-2016 for unsanitary conditions or operating without a license.

“We frequently verify with our teams that these types of establishments do not exist, where rights violations can take place,” Maria Jose Espin, head of technical management at the health ministry’s regulatory agency told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ecuador, Brazil and Malta are the only countries that have banned the controversial treatment, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

But hate crimes and human rights violations against LGBT people have taken place in more than 100 clinics across Ecuador since 2012, said Salao, a project coordinator, as evangelical groups gain influence in the Catholic-majority nation.

PLUS: Leftist Lenin Moreno Wins Ecuador’s Presidential Election

While being gay in Latin American countries is legal it can still be very deadly.