More than 60 MEPs appeal for a Europe-wide ban on ‘cruel, inhuman and torturous’ conversion therapy

Therapeutic and psychological experts have condemned conversion therapy

More than 60 members of the European Parliament have joined calls for the European Commission to enforce a Europe-wide ban on conversion therapy.

So-called ‘conversion therapy’ refers to the dangerous and discredited practise of trying to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity. It is often compared to torture and has been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide, and drug addiction.

All major medical and psychotherapy organisations have rejected the practice for decades and the UN has long called for a ban. However, only three European countries – Albania, Malta and Germany – have done so.

Now more than 60 MEPs have signed an open letter urging commissioners Věra Jourová, Helena Dalli and Stella Kyriakides to take steps to end it once and for all in Europe.

Penned by Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, the letter begins with the simple proclamation: “Conversion therapy practices are torture.”

The MEPs go on to explain that there is no way to classify the practice of conversion therapy other than “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that seeks to correct something that warrants no fixing – a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression”.

“They constitute a highly discriminatory practice that violates the human rights of LGBT+ persons and which causes severe physical and psychological suffering to its victims.”

They note that the practice is used in more than 69 countries worldwide, including several EU member states. Use of medication has been reported in France, while psychotherapy is reported to have been used in Austria, Italy and Poland.

Practices as extreme as exorcisms and ritual cleansing are said to have taken place in France and Spain.

“Notably, LGBT+ youth is at severe risk of torture due to these practices, given the role that family and caretakers often play in coercing victims to undergo them,” the MEPs warn.

“Does the Commission condone the practices of so-called ‘conversion therapies’?” the letter asks, suggesting that it is within the Commission’s power to legislate, either as a matter of public health or of freedom, security and justice.

“The message to the Commission is clear: ‘conversion therapy’ = torture,” added the Irish Greens MEP Grace O’Sullivan on Twitter. “Proud to sign this letter with the LGBTI Intergroup on the need to ban this practice. The time to act is now!”