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News > Brazil

Brazil: Film on Gay Conversion Therapy Pulled From Theaters

  • Nicole Kidman and Joel Edgerton bring 'Boy Erased' to TIFF

    Nicole Kidman and Joel Edgerton bring 'Boy Erased' to TIFF | Photo: Reuters file.

Published 5 February 2019

The Brazilian LGBT community believes Universal’s decision to pull 'Boy Erased' from screens is “an irresponsible one,” whether market-related or politically-related.

Distributors have censored a movie in Brazil critical about the practice of gay conversion therapy, a move which has received heavy criticism, especially from the LGBT community.

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The announcement from Universal Pictures came last weekend saying “the movie will not be screened in Brazil.”

This led to an intense debate over the impact that openly misogynistic and homophobic President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro is having in society. Bolsonaro has made anti-gay statements, such as that he’d rather have his son “die in an accident” than be with a male partner, which have caused some to believe the decision to censor the film was politically motivated.

“Boy Erased” filmmakers are also disappointed as they believe Brazil has an audience expected to watch the movie which has a plot that makes visible the struggle to end the discredited and in some places illegal practice.

“A lot of the communication that was coming from Brazilian [LGBT+] people was that they really wanted this material, they really wanted a story that reflected something that they’re seeing in their current society,” said actor and co-filmmaker David Craig.

The movie is based on a real story first portrayed in a book titled “Boy Erased: A Memoir” by author Garrard Conley. It tells the story of many people who suffered the therapy and have now joined the cause to end the inhuman practice.

The company deflected any indications that its decision was other than a market calculation: “Universal Pictures will not be releasing Boy Erased in theaters solely and exclusively for commercial reasons based on the cost of the launch campaign compared to the estimated box office sales.”

But for the LGBT community, Universal’s decision is “an irresponsible one,” whether it is market-related or politically related.

“Particularly in a country like Brazil, where conversion therapy is still such an epidemic and such a big issue, and in a moment when you have an openly anti-LGBT administration in place,” said the director of the LGBT rights group All Out Leandro Ramos.

As recently as 2017, Brazil suffered a big setback in its anti-LGBT legislation with the reversal on the law banning gay conversion therapy. The therapy was prohibited in 1999 by Brazil’s Federal Council of Psychology (CFP).

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