We’re really not quite sure what to think or say about this one.
A gay man in Belgium says, despite enduring 17 years of therapy and countless medications, he simply cannot accept his sexuality. So he’s pleading with doctors to end his life with euthanasia on the grounds of “extreme psychological suffering.”
39-year-old Sébastien was raised Catholic and has struggled his same-sex attraction since childhood, resulting in him feeling “extremely lonely, extremely withdrawn, very inhibited physically–scared to go out, scared of being seen, all the time scared, hugely shy.”
“Growing up, I met a boy and I fell crazy in love,” he tells the BBC. “We were both 15. And it was just unbearable for me, you know? I didn’t want to be gay.”
Human euthanasia was first legalized in Belgium in 2002. While the vast majority of cases involve elderly people suffering from terminal illnesses, occasionally it is used for adults battling extreme psychiatric disorders. Sébastien hopes to be one of those cases.
“The moment when they put the drip in my arm–I’m not worried about that,” he says, “For me, it’s just a kind of anaesthesia.”
In Belgium, being euthanized requires more than merely scheduling an appointment with your doctor, however. In psychiatric cases such as Sébastien’s, patients must prove they are legally competent and conscious and that their suffering is “incurable, constant and unbearable” then find three doctors to sign off on the procedure.
Gilles Genicot, lecturer in medical law at the University of Liege and member of the euthanasia review committee, says he is not yet sure if Sébastien’s case fulfills the legal criteria for euthanasia.
“It’s more likely he has psychological problems relating to his sexuality,” he says.
To qualify for euthanasia, he adds, Sébastien still must demonstrate that “every reasonable treatment has been tried unsuccessfully and three doctors come to the conclusion that no other option remains.”
Nevertheless, Sébastien is determined to die.
“I have always thought about death,” he says. “Looking back on my earliest memories, it’s always been in my thoughts. It’s a permanent suffering, like being a prisoner in my own body.”
He continues: “A constant sense of shame, feeling tired, being attracted to people you shouldn’t be attracted to–as though everything were the opposite of what I would have wanted.”
When asked if there is any way he might reconsider he decision, he is unsure.
“If someone could give me some kind of miracle cure, why not?” he says. “But for now, I really don’t believe it any more. And I’m too exhausted also, whatever may be out there.”