Speaking to Lusa agency, the president of Opus Diversidades admitted that the association has already received “some complaints” from victims of this type of practice, adding that last year alone they had five people undergoing psychotherapeutic care who had been subjected to these therapies.

Hélder Bértolo revealed that, in some of these cases, people “were forced or coerced by family members”, giving as examples cases that occurred “within religious communities”.

According to the person responsible, techniques like those used in the 1970s, in which there was so-called shock therapy, “which some people in Portugal used at the time with goodwill” are no longer at stake, but rather “something much more insidious” and “more difficult to identify”.

Hélder Bertolo added that “there are a lot of people” who report situations in which their parents suggested taking them to a doctor when they told them they were gay, lesbian, or trans.

“This indicates that there would be health professionals available to at least try. It's something that, after some trust, people tell us and it's a much bigger dimension than what one might think”, he pointed out, highlighting that the “secrecy” with which these practices are carried out makes their detection more difficult.

He, therefore, advocated that there be “very targeted training” so that, for example, criminal police bodies, the Medical Association, or the General Health Inspectorate “can be sensitive to these signs”.

An opinion shared by the executive director of Casa Qui, an association created to “ensure that this [LGBTI] population receives adequate responses in the area of mental health, social action and education”, according to which the legislation that comes into force today “is very important".

Rita Paulos highlighted that this is a “hidden phenomenon” and that for this reason, it is necessary that the approved diploma is not “just the letter”, defending that people are supported and informed “about the harmful effects of these practices”, admitting that the criminalisation part has “a very strong weight in terms of what constitutes a deterrent to these practices”.

“There is no doubt whatsoever [about] the associated risk, which must be said clearly that what happens is that these people who are subjected to these therapies often end up committing suicide”, warned Rita Paulos.

The law that comes into force today, and whose final wording involved PS, Bloco de Esquerda, Livre and PAN, amends the Penal Code and provides for prison sentences starting from three years, and up to five years in the case of therapies that involve modifications irreversible physics.

The sentences are increased if the crimes are carried out by more than one person, if the victim is under 16, under 14 or if they are a particularly vulnerable person, among other situations.