Why banning anti-LGBT ‘conversion therapy’ isn’t enough

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05/14/2020

Lawmakers around the world have proposed new legislation to ban ‘conversion therapy’ – attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In Canada, for example, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said banning conversion therapy was a “top priority” for his government, while lawmakers in Australia, France, Ireland, New Zealand, and Spain have also called for bans. The UN’s special rapporteur on torture has said that, in some instances, conversion therapy can “lead to severe and life-long physical and mental pain and suffering and can amount to torture and ill-treatment.” According to the American Psychological Association, ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative therapy’ for LGBT people has been linked to cases of depression, anxiety, and suicidality. In 2018, the European Parliament called on states to ban these practices – though it did not give guidance on how conversion therapy should be defined or curbed. This is important because the details matter, and a rush to adopt punitive legislation, imposing criminal penalties on non-violent and non-coercive practices as well as abusive ones, has overshadowed the need to support survivors.

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