Forced conversion therapy should be considered a form of torture, says UN violence expert
Forcing someone to undergo conversion therapy against their will should be treated as a form of torture, the UN’s LGBT+ rights expert has said.
Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN’s independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has called for a global ban on efforts to ‘cure’ LGBT+ people, arguing that they inflict “severe pain and suffering” on those that experience them.
A report by Madrigal-Borloz, presented to the UN Human Rights Council, took in more than 130 submissions from groups and individuals — including people who had been subject to “beatings, rape, electrocution, forced medication, isolation and confinement, forced nudity, verbal offence and humiliation”.
Madrigal-Borloz has called for the practice to be outlawed globally.
Conversion therapy is ‘inherently degrading and discriminatory’, says UN expert
In a release on Tuesday (July 7), he said: “These interventions exclusively target LGBT persons with the specific aim of interfering in their personal integrity and autonomy because their sexual orientation or gender identity do not fall under what is perceived by certain persons as a desirable norm.
“They are inherently degrading and discriminatory and rooted in the belief that LGBT persons are somehow inferior, and that they must at any cost modify their orientation or identity to remedy that supposed inferiority.”
Madrigal-Borloz stressed that the concept of ‘curing’ someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity has been repeatedly debunked by science, and that victims of conversion therapy face long-term harm to their physical and mental health.
He added: “Such practices constitute an egregious violation of rights to bodily autonomy, health, and free expression of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Ultimately, when conducted forcibly, they also represent a breach to the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.”
In his recommendations, Madrigal-Borloz called on nation states to enact bans on the practice “under the parameters established under the international human rights obligations pertaining to the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.
‘Gay cure’ therapy is still legal in the UK.
It is still legal to offer conversion therapy in the UK, where it continues to be practiced quietly through faith-based groups despite professional healthcare services having signed a memorandum of understanding disavowing its use.
The UK government committed itself to banning conversion therapy as part of an LGBT+ Action Plan unveiled in 2018 under then-prime minister Theresa May. However, the proposals were never put into effect.
A report emerged earlier this year that equalities minister Liz Truss is planning to revive plans to ban conversion therapy as a bid to appease the LGBT+ community as she moves to gut trans rights protections.
However, it is unclear whether the as-yet unannounced proposals will also outlaw gender identity-based conversion therapy, in addition to sexual orientation-based conversion therapy.
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