Report on conversion therapy


Published:
May 2020
Author:
Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Presented:
To the HRC at its 44th session, June 2020

 

Background

"Conversion therapy" is used as an umbrella term to describe interventions of a wide-ranging nature, all of which have in common the belief that a person's sexual orientation or gender identity can and should be changed. Such practices aim (or claim to aim) at changing people from gay, lesbian or bisexual to heterosexual and from trans or gender diverse to cisgender.

Depending on the context, the term is used for a multitude of practices and methods, some of which are clandestine and therefore poorly documented.

The term "therapy", derived from the Greek, denotes "healing". However, practices of "conversion therapy" are the very opposite: they are deeply harmful interventions that rely on the medically false idea that LGBT and other gender diverse persons are sick, inflicting severe pain and suffering, and resulting in long-lasting psychological and physical damage. Conversion therapy currently happens in a multitude of countries in all regions of the world.

Perpetrators of "conversion therapy" practices include private and public mental health-care providers, faith-based organizations, traditional healers and State agents; promoters additionally include family and community members, political authorities and other agents.

In his report, the Independent Expert calls for a global ban on practices of "conversion therapy", a process that must include clearly defining the prohibited practices; ensuring public funds are not used to support them; banning advertisements; establishing punishments for non-compliance and investigating respective claims; creating mechanisms to provide access to all forms of reparation to victims, including the right to rehabilitation.

Methodology

For the preparation of the present report, the Independent Expert carried out an extensive literature review and outreach measures. On 21 November 2019, he issued a call for written submissions, in response to which he received 33 contributions from Member States, including national human rights institutions, and 94 from civil society organizations, academics, medical practitioners, faith-based organizations, parliamentarians and individuals.

On 5 February 2020, he held a public consultation in Geneva and, on 29 February 2020, he convened a meeting of experts in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Some statistics

Regions covered by inputs received


Inputs received by stakeholders


Inputs received by region and stakeholders

Inputs received


Member States

National Human Rights Institutions, Equality Bodies and Ombudspersons

Members of parliament

Civil Society Organizations (including faith-based organisations)

Academics

Health Practitioners

Other individuals and researchers


​Mandate
Contact

Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations at Geneva
8-14 avenue de la Paix
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Fax: (+41) 22 917 90 06
E-mail: ie-sogi@ohchr.org or urgent-action@ohchr.org

Consultations
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