UN expert calls for global ban on conversion therapy

Victor Madrigal-Borloz the UN Independent Expert on SOGI says there should be a global ban on conversion therapy

Practices known as conversion therapy inflict severe pain and suffering on LGBT people often resulting in long-lasting psychological and physical damage, a UN expert told the Human Rights Council while calling for a global ban.

During the past several months, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, collected data on “conversion therapy” practices and testimonies of victims to inform his latest report to the Human Rights Council.

From some 130 submissions from States, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, medical practitioners, and individuals who had been subjected to such practices, he heard conversion is attempted through beatings, rape, electrocution, forced medication, isolation and confinement, forced nudity, verbal offence and humiliation and other acts of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.

“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,” Madrigal-Borloz said.

“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.”

The expert said dismantling such biases and prejudices requires the concerted action of States, the medical community and civil society, including faith-based organisations, to ensure a worldwide ban on the practices.

In May, Germany’s Parliament passed a law banning the practice of trying to ‘cure’ LGBTQ youth through conversion therapy. The law will now make it illegal to advertise or apply “treatments” that aim to change the sexual or gender identity of those who are 18-years-old or younger.

Madrigal-Borloz said “conversion therapy” practices have been consistently debunked by the scientific community and have been repeatedly linked to long-term harm to the physical and mental health of LGBT persons.

“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,” the Independent Expert said.

From Costa Rica, Madrigal-Borloz assumed the role of UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in January 2018. He is a senior visiting researcher at the Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program and served as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.

HRC 2020 from Victor Madrigal-Borloz on Vimeo.

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