A gay Belgian man whose sexuality has made him “a prisoner in my own body” is seeking the right to die under the country’s liberal euthanasia laws.
The 39-year-old, who says being gay is “a constant sense of shame”, has asked for assisted suicide because of the psychological suffering caused by his sexuality.
For the man – identified only as Sebastian – to be granted the right-to-die, three doctors must agree euthanasia is the right option after the patient has demonstrated “constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering”.
“My whole life has led me to this, really,” he told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme. “My mother had dementia so I wasn’t right, mentally. All that was instilled in me, so I was extremely lonely, very inhibited physically – scared to go out, hugely shy. I didn’t want to be gay.
“I have always thought about death. It is a permanent suffering, like being a prisoner in my own body. A constant sense of shame.”
Sebastian, who said he was attracted to young men and adolescent boys, said he believed he had no other option open to him after undergoing 17 years of therapy.
Asked whether he could change his mind, he said: “If someone could give me some kind of miracle cure, why not? But for now, I really don’t believe it any more. And I’m too exhausted also, whatever may be out there.”
Euthanasia has become increasingly common in Belgium, where the medical establishment has swung behind the view that it can be used to relieve psychological as well as physical suffering.
His request follows the 2013 case of a 44-year-old man who was given legal euthanasia after a botched sex change operation. Nathan, born Nancy, Verhelst, was killed by medical euthanasia on the grounds of “unbearable psychological suffering”.
That same year, Marc and Eddy Verbessem, two 45-year-old disabled twins who were congenitally deaf, were granted their request to die after they argued they were also going blind and would lose their independence in an institution.
Last year, Tom Mortier went to the European Court of Human Rights after his depressed mother was killed by lethal injection at her own request. The killing horrified Mr Mortier, who was not contacted until after his mother had died, when a hospital rang asking him to retrieve her body from the morgue.