GENEVA, SWITZERLAND Today, the United Nations' Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity called for a global ban on the practices of so-called "conversion therapy," stating that such practices "inflict severe pain and suffering on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender-diverse ( LGBT ) persons, often resulting in long-lasting psychological and physical damage."
"Today's action by the United Nations marks a huge turning point in the global effort to end this deadly practice," said Born Perfect Co-Founder and Chief Strategist Mathew Shurka. "I spent five years in conversion therapy, trapped in systemic torture by therapists who falsely claimed that they could change my sexual orientation. I know firsthand how devastating these practices are, and how much lasting harm they cause to LGBTQ people and their families. The independent expert and the U.N.'s leadership have the power and influence to encourage member states to protect LGBTQ people from this abuse."
Also known as "ex-gay" or "reparative" therapy, conversion therapy practices claim to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices have been condemned as dangerous, unethical, and ineffective by medical and mental health organizations, which have warned that conversion therapy provides no benefits and puts patients at risk of serious harm, including depression and suicide.
In preparing today's report to the Human Rights Council, the independent expert, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, collected data on conversion therapy practices as well as the testimonies of survivors.
His report draws from 130 submissions from governments, civil society organizations, religious organizations, health providers, and survivors of "ex-gay" or "reparative" therapy. In extreme cases around the world, attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity include beatings, rape, electrocution, forced medication, isolation and confinement, forced nudity, and verbal humiliation. In the United States, these practices often consist primarily of counseling based on shaming, disinformation, isolation, and efforts to turn parents and LGBTQ people against each other.
"Born Perfect is incredibly proud to have supported and contributed our work to the U.N. report," Shurka said. "We stand with the U.N. Independent Expert in calling for a global ban, letting every child know they are Born Perfect."
Last February, Shurka spoke alongside Madrigal-Borloz to the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program about his experiences undergoing conversion therapy. The meeting was convened as part of Madrigal-Borloz's U.N. mandate.
"Survivors are at the forefront of the movement to end conversion therapy," Shurka told the program. "They have changed the hearts and minds of legislators and policymakers by sharing their stories."
Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, agreed.
"Today's report confirms that conversion therapy is a human rights abuse, not a legitimate treatment," Minter said. "Our local, state, and national leaders now have even more support to protect youth from this harmful practice."
Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign created by the National Center for Lesbian Right ( NCLR ) in 2014 to end conversion therapy by passing laws across the country that protect LGBT children and young people, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices. bornperfect.org .