LGBT conversion therapy | Read Time 3-5 Minutes.
Over 100 years after its invention, the disturbing procedure of conversion therapy is finally coming into reform.
More than 370 religious leaders from 35 countries signed a new declaration that seeks a global ban on LGBT conversion therapy. The declaration, and it’s witnesses, aim to bring an end to the criminal process of LGBT conversion therapies. However, it also seeks forgiveness for the religious and homophobic practices that have harmed members of the LGBT community for centuries.
The declaration is referred to as “Declaring the Sanctity of Life and the Dignity of All.” It was initiated by the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT Lives and was set to go live on Wednesday the 16th of December at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). However, due to London moving into Tier 3 restrictions, the conference was unfortunately moved online.
The declaration states that people of all sexual orientations, gender expressions and gender identities “are a precious part of creation and are part of the natural order”. It also affirms that, since “all are equal under God”, all should be “treated equally under the law.”
Moreover, the declaration acknowledges that “certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offence” to LGBT+ people. They have “created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice and result in violence.”
“For too long, religious teachings have been misused – and are still being misused – to cause deep pain and offence to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex. This must change”.
– I. Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool
What is LGBT conversion therapy?
Conversion therapy is a discredited practise that aims to alter an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy is unethical, harmful and is far more common in the UK than it may seem. Most practitioners today use quasi-psychoanalytic methods, such as one-on-one or group therapy sessions. But in the past, conversion therapy was far more sinister.
Antiquated methods of conversion therapy include institutionalisation, incarceration, electroshock therapy and sometimes vulgar or violent forms of aversion therapy.
“In the UK, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies, as well as the NHS, have concluded that conversion therapy is dangerous and have condemned it by signing a Memorandum of Understanding”
A survey conducted in 2018 discovered that out of the 108,000 members of the LGBT community in the UK, 2% had undergone LGBT conversion therapy and a total of 5% have been offered it. In fact, only 7 countries in the world have any direct legislation towards conversion therapies, and almost none of them are in Europe.
An individual named Joe Hyman told the BBC that his experience of conversion therapies was based online and was aimed to change his sexual desires. Moreover, Joe expressed that the therapy left him feeling empty, desexualised and constantly anxious.
have we eradicated conversion therapy yet?
In 2018, the UK government launched its”LGBT Initiative”, a part of which was a commitment to banning LGBT conversion therapy.
In July 2020, Boris Johnson announced that plans to ban LGBT conversion therapy would be brought forward. Following this announcement, the UK Government has offered to fund any upcoming meetings or conferences to support the ban.
But as of the 28th of March (2021) countless petitons have been made, and no action has been seen. The largest issue is that many people are unaware that LGBT conversion therapy is still being practiced; it’s not an “immediate issue” so it won’t have immediate attention. Three advisors, including the LGBT activist Jayne Ozanne, stepped down from the UK LGBT advisory panel in March 2021, amid fears that the government was being negligent in it’s duties
The UK’s government is yet to release details of the ban. However, they have informed the public that they have commissioned research and would outline its “plan in due course.”
TIME TO SPEAK UP
If you feel for any reason that a certain therapy or practice is discriminatory, speak up and fight for change. The dark history of LGBT conversion therapy hasn’t quite been eradicated yet. But with so many more people signing petitions to legally ban LGBT conversion therapies, progress is certainly being made.
UK based activist site https://www.banconversiontherapy.com/ is encouraging the public to contact their local MP to continue battling against conversion therapy.