World Psychiatric Association denounces ex-gay therapy

The world’s largest organization of mental health professionals called for an end to the discredited practice of “conversion therapy,” also known as ex-gay therapy.

In a statement issued on March 23, the World Psychiatric Association said,  “WPA believes strongly in evidence-based treatment. There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed. 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. … Psychiatrists have a social responsibility to advocate for a reduction in social inequalities for all individuals, including inequalities related to gender identity and sexual orientation.”

Dangers of ex-gay therapy

“We are thrilled that the World Psychiatric Association has joined the chorus of national and international voices calling for an end to conversion therapy,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights #BornPerfect campaign coordinator and staff attorney Sam Ames. “Their announcement sends a clear message that these practices have no place in modern medicine and that policies that condone them engender hatred and endanger lives all across the globe. Today, we are closer than ever to the day when all LGBTQ youth are embraced by their families, supported by their communities, and given no reason to doubt that they were born perfect.”

Less than a year ago, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report calling for all member countries to end conversion therapy.

That report followed the UN Committee Against Torture’s historic decision to raise the issue as a potential violation of human rights just after the National Center for Lesbian Rights delivered testimony at the 2014 review of the United States.

Also, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released a report, “Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth,” following independent statements by President Barack Obama, senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy calling for an end to the practices.

Five jurisdictions — California, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Oregon, and Illinois — protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy at the hands of licensed mental health professionals, with leaders from several other states working on similar legislation in the 2016 legislative session.

In February, NCLR, the Human Rights Campaign and Southern Poverty Law Center filed a landmark federal consumer fraud complaint asking the Fair Trade Commission to investigate the false and misleading claims used by the conversion therapy industry.

On the Web

The full statement.