Dr Aubrey Levin – then and now.
A doctor accused of using electric shock aversion therapy to “cure” gay soldiers in the apartheid military has been arrested in Canada for repeatedly sexually abusing a 36 year old male patient.
According to reports, psychiatrist Dr Aubrey Levin (71) – who was employed at the University of Calgary’s medical school – has been suspended from practising and is currently out on bail.
His alleged sexual abuse was apparently secretly videotaped by the patient, whose claims were at first not believed, using a hidden camera.
Levin has been practising and teaching in Canada for 15 years and it is thought that he had managed to keep his past secret until now. Authorities say that they are investigating other claims of abuse.
Following his arrest, South African LGBT activists have called for Levin to also be prosecuted for his alleged crimes in South Africa. These are said to include using electric shock aversion therapy on gay soldiers in the infamous Ward 22 at the South African Defence Force’s Voortrekkerhoogte military hospital in Pretoria.
Starting in 1969, soldiers were strapped down and shown images of naked men and then given electric shocks in order to create negative associations to their same-sex attraction. There have also been claims that Levin chemically castrated some gay patients and even undertook sex change operations. He has also been accused of attempting to “treat” lesbians through similar means.
While many of the accusations against him were heard by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Levin himself fled to Canada and refused to testify. He has denied that he took part in human rights abuses.
In 2000, he told the Guardian newspaper: “Nobody was held against his or her will. We did not keep human guinea pigs, like Russian communists; we only had patients who wanted to be cured and were there voluntarily.”
South African LGBT rights activist Christina Engela has called for Levin to be extradited to South Africa and prosecuted “for the alleged heinous crimes he committed with total impunity and under the full protection of the Apartheid government.
“We demand justice, if not only for surviving victims, but even more so for those who committed suicide and had their lives ruined and for their families and friends to find closure, and to restore the dignity of the South African LGBT community.”
The use of electric shock aversion therapy as a means to “convert” people from gay to straight has long been discredited as ineffective and dangerous.
Levin is scheduled to appear again in an Alberta court on 8 April.