United Nations LGBT expert says gay ‘cure’ therapy must be outlawed to tackle homophobic ‘scourge’

The UN’s top LGBT expert has said that gay ‘cure’ therapy must be outlawed globally as part of a bid to tackle the “scourge” of homophobia, biphobia and transphobic violence.

Independent expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz delivered findings from his work at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week.

His scathing report notes the widespread criminalisation of homosexuality continues to impact almost half the world’s population, while the majority globally live in countries where LGBT people face violence and discrimination.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN’s new Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (Photo: OHCHR)

The report pushes: “The Independent Expert recommends that States repeal laws that criminalise consensual same-sex relations, gender identity or expression, and statements or publications or actions that discuss or refer to the identity or expression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender non-conforming persons (so-called ‘anti-propaganda’ laws).

“States should moreover review other laws and policies that exacerbate police abuse and harassment, extortion and acts of violence against people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, in particular, laws based on public decency, morals, health and security, including beggary and loitering laws; and laws criminalizing conduct seen as ‘indecent’ or ‘provocative’, including laws criminalizing sex work.”

It adds that States should “take all measures necessary to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity” and “enact legislation on hate crimes that defines homophobia, misogyny, biphobia and transphobia as aggravating factors for the purposes of sentencing.”

The report also calls for a ban on gay ‘cure’ therapy and other discredited practises.

It states: “States should ban so-called “conversion therapy”, forced medical examinations, including anal examinations, involuntary treatment, forced or otherwise involuntary psychiatric evaluations, forced or coerced surgery, sterilization and other coercive medical procedures imposed on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender nonconforming persons.”

Madrigal-Borloz told the Council: “Every day, millions of lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans and other gender non-conforming people are subjected to acts of great cruelty based solely on who they are or who they choose to love or desire.

“Denying this fact is offensive to the dignity of those targeted, as well as the global conscience. Opposition to taking action to protect them defies logic and any justification.”

A picture taken on June 18, 2018 in Geneva shows a general view during the opening of the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.( ALAIN GROSCLAUDE/AFP/Getty)

He added: “No State or region of the world is spared from this scourge.

“More than three billion people, almost half of the world’s population, live in countries in which the law or other measures criminalize some citizens on the basis of sexual orientation. So, recognizing the problem and adopting effective measures to address it does make a significant difference.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes clear that freedom, justice and peace in the world rest on the recognition of the inherent dignity and equality of all members of the human family.

“I urge all members in the community of nations to hear the testimony of people who are targeted, and take action. If you listen, you will hear them calling for the conscience of humankind to be outraged in the face of their pain and suffering.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council. (ALAIN GROSCLAUDE/AFP/Getty)

The report adds: “The Independent Expert commends States that acknowledge the existence of this scourge [of violence], its dimension and the challenges connected to it, and exhorts others to stop negating it.

“Acts of violence range from daily exclusion and discrimination to the most heinous acts, including torture and arbitrary killings.

“There are no comprehensive and systematic data on the number of victims, but it is a safe presumption that there are millions every year. At the root of these acts lies the intent to punish victims on the basis of preconceived notions of what should be their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“There is a plethora of actions that States can adopt to initiate the task of eradicating violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. They include law reform, access to justice, public policy and administrative actions.”


The Trump administration recently withdrew the US from the Human Rights Council, in a decision that activists warned may undermine future work on LGBT rights.