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Monday, January 10, 2011

Suspect: Castration of Murdered Portuguese Gay Journalist an Attempt to "Cure" Him of Homosexuality

By Killian Melloy -

The suspected killer of an openly gay Portuguese journalist reportedly told the police that he castrated his victim with a corkscrew in order to "cure" the older man of his homosexuality.

Renato Seabra, the 20-year-old model with whom prominent gay journalist Carlos Castro had traveled to New York, was apparently Castro’s lover, reported the New York Daily News on Jan. 10. The older man’s killing--said by the newspaper to have possibly been triggered by the 65-year-old Castro refusing to take Seabra shopping--included a grisly act of sexual mutilation: Seabra reportedly castrated his victim with a corkscrew. Castro’s death was reportedly the result of choking and at least one blow to the head.

Seabra fled the scene, and was arrested when he went to a hospital for treatment to what may have been self-inflicted wounds. The New York Daily News reported that authorities suspect Seabra may have attempted suicide.

Once in police custody, Seabra--who denies being sexually involved with Castro and says that he is heterosexual--reportedly claimed that castrating the older man was his attempt to "get rid of homosexual demons" and convert Castro into a straight man.

Police suspect that the two were not only sexually involved, but had been for some months in Portugal before traveling to New York. The pair stayed at the InterContinental Hotel, checking in on Dec. 29. The plan, the article said, was to ring in the New Year in the Big Apple.

But something went wrong along the way, leading to Castro’s brutal killing and mutilation. The older man’s body was found on Jan. 7 in the hotel room he shared with Seabra.

Back in Portugal, Seabra’s mother told the media that reports of her son’s homosexuality were untrue. "My son was not Carlos Castro’s lover," said Odília Pereirinha. "From the beginning, he never hid his sexuality, which is heterosexual." She also described Seabra as a person of faith, and said he could not have committed the murder. "My son, being a golden boy, who is so good, he didn’t do this," she declared.

Seabra had been a contestant on a reality program in Portugal, reported the Associated Press on Jan. 8. The two were going to have dinner with the daughter of a friend on the evening of Jan. 7, but Seabra met the young woman in the hotel lobby and told her, "Carlos will never leave the hotel again," according to her father, Luis Pires, who edits a Portuguese-language newspaper.

Alarmed, the young woman notified the hotel’s management, and that’s when Castro’s mutilated body was discovered. The AP article described the hotel room as "blood drenched." Seabra, meantime, had fled.

A fellow guest said that earlier in the day she had heard the two men arguing loudly.

Pires told the media that he thought the argument may have been sparked by jealousy. "My wife and my daughter were with [Seabra] for the past three or four days," Pires said. "My wife told me that he was a very nice kid. Very polite. I think this must have been a crime of the heart." Added Pires, "This was a 21-year-old kid, looking for fame. [Castro] probably saw him watching girls, or something."

His being openly gay, the AP reported, only heightened Castro’s profile in Portugal.

So-called "reparative therapy" is touted by religious organizations that say that through prayer and counseling gays can "convert" to heterosexuality. Some religious communities believe that homosexuality is the work of demons that possess gays and cause them to act in a sexual manner with others of the same gender. Mental health professionals warn that reparative therapy can do more harm than good.

One young man who has written about his experience in a program designed to "cure" gays claims that life in programs such as the one he experienced is tightly regimented, and participants are advised that they have surrendered their rights to the clerics in charge.

In writing about his experience with Teen Challenge in a Jan. 11 article posted at Alternet, James Voss--who was remanded to the "ex-gay program" as part of his parole after a drunk driving citation--described a program that used techniques not unlike those employed by cults to "program" their members.

"Think of the program as a sanctification quick stop to redeem one in the eyes of the Assembly of God Church," wrote Voss, who grew up in a religious household I was told that once I spoke in tongues that god would work in my life and remove the gay feelings.

"In the four months I lived at the teen challenge center in Muskegon Michigan, all personal decisions were left to the director of the center who was guided by a stern handbook that consisted of 111 individual rules and guidelines," Voss continued. "A majority of these rules were designed to put program participants in submission to the program’s leaders who supposedly were anointed by God and spoke with the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. The physical evidence of their holiness the ability to speak in tongues."

Voss wrote that females who were in the program were kept behind partitions so that men could only see their eyes as they spoke about their experiences and feelings during meetings. Voss also claimed that participants were denied prescription medications--even those that were prescribed for psychological conditions--because relying on any treatment other than prayer was seen by the clerics in charge as a failure to be place sufficient faith in the healing power of Jesus.

"No mail or phone conversations are allowed in the first four weeks that a student is attending the program," Voss wrote. "This is done largely because by the fourth week in the program, students are broken down enough that they no longer think for themselves and respond in a programmed way." Voss added that the "change" or "improvement" that concerned parents might see in their teens was the result of programmed conditioning, rather than a more mature facility to formulate and exercise good judgment.

"At Teen Challenge, people do ’change’ because they are heavily conditioned how to respond," Voss asserted. "Some of these adjustments were positive. For example, having every minute of the day programmed does bring order to one’s life. However, the overall program is quite harmful to those who participate, particularly LGBT people."
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

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