UN Expert Calls for Worldwide Conversion Therapy Ban

The practice is "inherently degrading and discriminatory," says Victor Madrigal-Borloz.

A human rights expert has called upon the United Nations to issue a global ban on so-called “conversion therapy.”

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, a Costa Rican lawyer and the UN’s independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, denounced the long-debunked practice before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, this week, AFP reports.

In his report to the council, Madrigal-Borloz highlighted the “severe pain and suffering” conversion therapy causes for survivors, including “long-lasting psychological and physical damage.” He cited examples from more than 130 cases of the practice, some of which included expressly violent tactics like beating, electrocution, or even rape.

“These interventions exclusively target LGBTQ 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,” he said, adding that conversion therapy practices are “inherently degrading and discriminatory and rooted in the belief that LGBTQ persons are somehow inferior, and that they must at any cost modify their orientation or identity to remedy that supposed inferiority.”

“Such practices constitute an egregious violation of rights to bodily autonomy, health, and free expression of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity,” Madrigal-Borloz concluded.

Though medical experts and LGBTQ advocates alike have long condemned conversion therapy and its potentially deadly repercussions—including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidal thoughts or attempts—the practice persists around the world. It disproportionately affects LGBTQ youth. Most recently, German lawmakers passed legislation banning conversion therapy for minors.

To date, only 19 states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia have restricted or banned conversion therapy.

The practice is also barred in many cities and municipalities around the country, including Tallahassee, Florida, which banned conversion therapy in a sweeping city ordinance this April.

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