Expert's Report to UN Calls for End to So-Called 'Conversion Therapy' Worldwide

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday July 9, 2020

Stock Image
Stock Image  (Source:Getty Images)

A report by a UN Independent Expert who specializes in LGBTQ-related discrimination and violence has come out with a report calling for the end of so-called "conversion therapy" everywhere in the world.

Yahoo News reports that the report, authored by Victor Madrigal Borloz, condemns the pseudo-scientific practice - which claims to "cure" LGBTQ people and "convert" them into heterosexuals - as inflicting "severe pain and suffering on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender-diverse (LGBT) persons, often resulting in long-lasting psychological and physical damage," the Yahoo News article said.

Borloz's findings were based on more than 130 testimonials in which, the Yahoo News account said, Borloz heard about:

...beatings, rape, electrocution, forced medication, confinement, forced nudity, verbal humiliation and other acts of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.

Reputable mental health professionals have long warned that the quack practice, which is often promoted by religious entities, has no scientific credibility and no basis in medical fact. Skeptics note that in addition to not "curing" anyone, "conversion therapy" can endanger those upon whom it is inflicted.

A number of states and municipalities in the U.S. have banned the practice from being imposed on minors. Earlier this year, Canada seemed poised to outlaw the practice nationally, while advocates for a ban in England have renewed their calls.

A number of former leaders in the field have also come forward in recent years to acknowledge that despite their previous support for the practice, they themselves were never "turned" straight; those former advocates of "conversion therapy" have also spoken out against the practice and issued apologies to those who have survived it.

A press release from Born Perfect, an advocacy arm of the National Center for Lesbian Rights that combats "conversion therapy," praised the report and noted that while many programs in the U.S. now avoid the more controversial and violent tactics used against LGBTQ people subjected to "conversion" programs, American practitioners have been known to employ "counseling based on shaming, disinformation, isolation, and efforts to turn parents and LGBTQ people against each other."

Born Perfect's co-founder, Mathew Shurka, disclosed in the release that:

"I spent five years in conversion therapy, trapped in systemic torture by therapists who falsely claimed that they could change my sexual orientation. I know firsthand how devastating these practices are, and how much lasting harm they cause to LGBTQ people and their families.

"The independent expert and the U.N.'s leadership have the power and influence to encourage member states to protect LGBTQ people from this abuse."

The report outlined heartbreaking stories of personal suffering, in one section recounting that:

During his country visits and other dialogue activities, the Independent Expert heard many testimonies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender-diverse persons subjected to those practices. In Mozambique, he heard accounts from persons subjected to exorcisms by churches or traditional healers and to so-called "corrective" rapes arranged by the families of lesbian women, the community, authorities in faith-based organizations or traditional healers...

"The attempts to pathologize and erase the identity of individuals, negate their existence as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or gender diverse and provoke self-loathing have profound consequences on their physical and psychological integrity and well-being. In recent global studies, many respondents spoke of the profound damage resulting from being subjected to "conversion therapy", including in a survey with 8,000 respondents from 100 countries, in which a staggering 98 percent of the 940 persons who reported having undergone those practices testified to having suffered damage."

The report also noted that survivors of "conversion therapy" reported an array of repercussions, including "permanent physical harm... suicidal attempts... depression... anxiety...shame... self-hatred... and loss of [religious] faith."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

Comments on Facebook