Today, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) condemned the dangerous and discredited practices of so-called “conversion therapy,” urging countries around the globe to adopt pro-LGBT legislation.
“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” are practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a theory that has been rejected by every major medical and mental health organization for decades.
“There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed,” WPA told BuzzFeed News. “Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish, and they can be potentially harmful. The provision of any intervention purporting to ‘treat’ something that is not a disorder is wholly unethical.”
In the U.S., California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have all passed laws protecting LGBTQ minors from “conversion therapy” and more than 20 states have introduced similar legislation this year. Following executive action from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, New York is also adopting regulations to protect youth from “conversion therapy.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a federal court decision upholding the constitutionality of New Jersey’s law protecting LGBTQ youth from these practices to stand for the second time. Additionally, HRC, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a historic federal consumer fraud complaint with the FTC against a major provider of “conversion therapy.”
"This announcement by the World Psychiatric Association moves us one step closer to putting an end to this horrific practice,” said Ellen Kahn, Director, Children Youth and Families Program, HRC Foundation. “The message is crystal clear-- from the vast majority of mental health professionals, a growing body of research, and the real stories of people who were subjected to traumatic ‘conversion therapy’ is that we have a moral obligation to end it now. “
There is no credible evidence that “conversion therapy” can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people. Use of these dangerous practices lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior.
The WPA joins the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and American Medical Association in criticizing this harmful practice.
Last year, NCLR and HRC released sample legislation for state legislators and equality groups who want to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.