What is a conversion therapy or sexual reorientation?

Foto: Pexels

A therapy is done in order to alleviate or cure some physical or mental problem, but does it always have this purpose? Sex conversion therapies date back to the 19th century, when homosexuality was believed to be a disease. This practice spread to the present accompanied by religious discourses that reproduce the idea that homosexuality is a disease.

What is a conversion therapy?

Sexual conversion therapy, or Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, has been created in order to change sexual orientation or gender identity through different psychological, psychiatric or religious “methods” or “treatments”.

These therapies became famous at the end of the 19th century. At that time, people were subjected to electric shocks, lobotomies, among other practices under the premise that they could be “cured”.

People with tape in their mouth
Source: Pexels

Over time, religion also ventured into conversion therapies. In the 70s, this practice became famous in the United States and in churches that professed Christianity.

In the investigation carried out by growthinktank.org they say that “conversion therapies” are called “restorative therapies” by the psychologists and religious practitioners who offer them. They assume that there is something morally or pathologically wrong with anyone who is non-heterosexual, non-cisgender, or non-conforming to gender stereotypes.

The reality of a conversion therapy

Sexual Orientation Change Efforts are inhumane, people are subjected, mistreated, victimized and taken to extremes, compromising their physical and mental integrity.

Some religious entities carry out spiritual retreats and once the person is there, the ordeal begins; They are not only deprived of their liberty and threatened, they force them to stay awake without water or food, they beat them so they don't fall asleep and they constantly read the Bible to them.

They apply Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, where they search weak minds, memories of rape or something that supposedly caused them to be homosexual or have a certain gender identity.

Also read: Inclusive language. All language is political

Other methods used by ECOSIG (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts) are:

  • Electroshocks
  • Corrective violations
  • Exorcisms
  • Online therapies
  • Physical abuse
  • Induced nausea
  • Fasts
  • Watch porn
  • Testosterone injections
  • Humiliation
  • Psychological torture
  • Hypnosis

Types of therapies

A group bullying someone
Source: Pexels

Aversion therapy: 

This is done in order to provoke associations of shame, pain and suffering for their orientation or identity.

Religious therapies: 

This is based on prayers, bible reading, fasting and medications that are normally used to treat neurological or psychological problems. Other religious groups opt for therapies and talks that are regularly consented to by people and are disguised under themes psychological and self-help.

Drug therapy or chemical castration: 

This is based on injectable and drinkable drugs that decrease sexual desire, by reducing the hormonal load through drugs.

Some therapies use some of these methods, others combine them, but none with scientific support.

What beliefs drive these practices?

  • LGBT people are like this because they were raped
  • That being part of the LGBT community is a disease
  • LGBT people are prone to addictions
  • LGBT people have a sexual disease
  • LGBT people have a demon
  • LGBT people are sinners
  • LGBT people are not good for society
  • LGBT people did not have a healthy father figure

Who promotes these practices?

Someone worried
Source: Pexels

Those responsible for promoting and expanding these methods or practices are groups of different religions, psychologists and psychiatrists who believe they have the cure for what is not a disease, and organizations that do not admit anything outside their ideology.

Consequences of conversion therapies

  • Post Traumatic stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Uncontrollable crying episodes
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Shame
  • Panic attacks
  • Self-harm
  • Drug-affected sex life
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Distrust
  • Self-loathing
  • Depersonalization
  • Feelings of guilt and disgust

What is happening in the world regarding conversion therapies?

Quoting again the growthinktank.org portal with its research on “conversion therapies” throughout the world: a still little-known torture and where they mention the following figures and aspects:

  • The religious organizations that offer them are present in about 40 countries.
  • A January 2018 UCLA Law Department investigation found that 698,000 LGBTQI+ people between the ages of 18 and 59 had undergone one or more conversion therapies in the United States, including 59,000.
  • In France, 4.2% of the calls on the Le Refuge association hotline in 2019 concerned conversion therapy.
  • In China homosexuality is not considered a disease since 1997, however in some places treatments are still given to “cure” homosexuality.
  • In Malaysia, homosexual practices are prohibited and described as “unnatural”. Islamic law or Syariah is applied in Malaysia.
A group bullying someone
Source: Pexels
  • In Malaysia was launched in December 2018, the government program “Mukhayyam” is funded and supervised by the Department of Islamic Development. Officials say participation is voluntary and they welcomed 1,450 “healings.”
  • In Europe, only four out of fifty countries have legally banned conversion therapy in order to criminalize it.
  • In 2016, Malta becomes the first European country to ban and criminalize conversion therapy.
  • Parliamentary discussions on the issue are taking place in several countries, including France.
  • Brazil was the first to make illegal in 1999 the pathologization of homosexual behavior and practices.
  • Other data on the world panorama that are related to conversion therapies, are those countries that prohibit Efforts to Correct Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, these countries are: Taiwan, Argentina, Switzerland, Brazil, Samoa, Ecuador, Uruguay , Fiji and Malta.
  • Mexico is one of the countries in Latin America where these conversion therapies exist, a situation that is known thanks to the victims who have decided to talk about what they have been through.

These practices represent a crime for:

  • Violation
  • Torture
  • Deprivation of liberty
  • Forced medication
  • Freedom of expression

Extra data

  • In 1990 the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses.
  • In 2019, the World Health Organization removed trans identity from the list of mental illnesses.
  • In 2012, the World Health Organization stated that conversion therapies are not only a threat to health, but also violate the rights of those affected.
  • In 2016 the World Psychiatric Association affirms that conversion therapies are useless and harmful.


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