A groundbreaking report released by OutRight Action International today exposes the global reach of so-called conversion therapy.
Drawing on data from survey results with almost 500 respondents from 80 countries, and in-depth interviews with experts and survivors from more than a dozen countries, the report overwhelmingly shows that so-called conversion therapy efforts occur across the world and are predominantly promoted and perpetrated by people acting in the name of religion or pseudo-healthcare, often instigated by family pressure.
“Conversion therapy” is the most widely used term to describe practices attempting to change, suppress, or divert one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. It is also called reorientation therapy, reparative therapy, reintegrative therapy, or, more recently, support for unwanted same-sex attraction or transgender identities.
The practices vary due to religious, cultural, or traditional contexts and range from overtly physically violent, such as electroshock or “corrective rape”, to psychologically abusive, such as isolation or psychiatric hospitalization, or more subtle forms of talk therapy or group therapy.
Practices can also be religiously based, including extensive prayer, fasting and spiritual rituals. But regardless of the form they take or the name attributed, so-called conversion therapy practices are not a recognized form of therapy and certainly do not result in conversion. In fact, such practices cause deep, lasting trauma that affects every realm of life.
George Barasa, a survivor of conversion therapy from Kenya, reflects:
“Conversion therapy is not a single event – it is a process of continued degradation and assault on the core of who you are.
There are often repeated violations in the form of psychological and sometimes physical abuse… It is not one instance – it is a continued sense of rejection. The pressure is enormous.”
You can access the full report here.