The appointment of a lesbian politician as Ecuador’s new health minister has caused a stir this week, as she announced a campaign to shut down religious ‘lesbian cure’ clinics.

Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, announced the appointment of Carina Vance Mafla, who is openly gay, as the newest member of his cabinet.

The American-born activist hit the ground running, with an announcement that the health ministry will be working closely with lesbian rights group Fundacion Causana, and other civil rights groups, to shut down the remaining religious clinics which promise to ‘cure’ lesbians.

Vance has been heavily involved in campaigning towards equal rights, and was previously the Executive Director of Fundacion Causana.

In the past, she called for reforms of the country’s health system, specifically for the closure of the ‘gay cure’ religious clinics, the regulation of HIV treatment distribution, and to put an end to LGBT discrimination within the health system.

A petition run by Change.org calling for the closure of such clinics raised 113,761 signatures, and is being welcomed as a victory. A similar petition on Allout.org currently has 64,650.

The petitions had praised the government for the closure of over 30 clinics, but called for an end to the institutions, which ex-patients reported tortured and abused lesbians both physically and psychologically.

Fundacion Causana, based in Quito, Ecuador, released a statement on the success of the campaign:

“After ten years of outcry, the nation of Ecuador- through the Ministry of Public Health- has entered into a commitment with civic organizations and society in general to deconstruct the belief that homosexuality is an illness and root our the use of torture in these clinics.”

This announcement has also meant further praise for the president Correa, who has been complimented for supporting a pro-LGBT constitution.

The previous health minister, David Chiriboga, resigned this month after failing to reform Ecuador’s failing health service.