Lexicon Library.LGBT
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Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts

The insidious practices enacted by homophobicbiphobic and transphobic groups and organisations that claim to “cure” people of their Queerness. Such practices are pseudo-scientific, and often have long-lasting and damaging implications, for example, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. There is absolutely no medical or scientific evidence that such practices work.

There are a wide range of “conversion therapy” (also known as “reparative therapy”) practices used in order to “cure” people of their LGBTQIA+ status. Traditionally, these have included practices such as electro-shock therapy or corrective rape (that is, where individuals are forced to engage in heterosexual sex). Other methods that are commonly portrayed are conversion camps, where people are sent away to be intensively “trained” to be cisgender and heterosexual.

It also includes some more subtle methods, such as with ‘spiritual intervention’, where people are told they can “pray the gay away” through religious devotion and abstinence from homosexual behaviours or expressions of gender that are not considered ‘consistent’ with traditional gender roles.

Many countries have acted on advice from medical authorities and taken steps to make conversion therapies illegal, based on the damaging effect they have on people’s mental health and wellbeing, particularly as these forms of practices are most often led by individuals with no certified or reputable training in the areas of psychology or psychiatry.

Many defenders of these kinds of practices have attempted to distance spiritual or religious interventions from “conversion therapy”, or to portray their methods as being available to consenting adults who have “unwanted sexual attractions or gender identities”: however, most often homophobia and transphobia are often the root cause of such individuals wishing to be ‘converted’, or may be the result of anti-Queer church teachings that effectively put individuals in a position where they have to choose between their faith and their sexuality/gender identity.

Originally published: 13th June, 2021
Last modified: 13th June, 2021