Facebook, Instagram to remove content that promotes conversion therapy

“We consulted with Facebook’s team directly on creating an algorithm to help detect advertising by conversion therapists and delete those advertisements,” said Mathew Shurka, Born Perfect co-founder and chief strategist. Now Instagram has implemented a broader ban.

July 10, 2020

Contact: Christopher Vasquez
NCLR Communications Director / (415) 365-1337

MENLO PARK, California — Facebook and Instagram announced today that they will exclude content that promotes the harmful practice of conversion therapy – a step taken to curtail online hatred and harmful disinformation. Facebook owns Instagram.

Earlier this year, the company announced that it would no longer accept ads that promote fake “cures” for sexual orientation and gender identity. These fraudulent treatments have been shown to cause shame, depression, low self-esteem, and sometimes suicide amongst LGBTQ youth. Born Perfect worked with Facebook on this initiative.

“We consulted with Facebook’s team directly on creating an algorithm to help detect advertising by conversion therapists and delete those advertisements,” said Mathew Shurka, Born Perfect co-founder and chief strategist.

Now the official restriction applies to all content, not just ads.

“These fraudulent practitioners and organizations have exploited platforms like Instagram to prey on vulnerable LGBTQ people,” said Shurka. “Removing this harmful practice will save lives.”

Facebook explains why

“We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services,” Tara Hopkins, public policy director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said in a statement reported by CNN. “We have removed violating content from @coreissuestrusttv. We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach.”

Born Perfect calls upon other social media to follow Facebook’s example, and actively reduce harmful disinformation against LGBTQ+ people on their platforms.

Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Victor Madrigal-Borloz

Born Perfect Applauds United Nations’ Call for a Global Ban on Conversion Therapy

“Today’s action by the United Nations marks a huge turning point in the global effort to end conversion therapy.”

July 8, 2020

Contact: Christopher Vasquez, NCLR Communications Director / (415) 365-1337

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.”

Harvard Hosts U.N. Consultation Including 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 the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Red Wing

Red Wing, Minn., Votes to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors

RED WING, Minnesota (June 23, 2020) — The Red Wing City Council voted last night to ban conversion therapy for minors. The vote makes Red Wing the fourth city in the state to protect youth from this harmful practice, after Duluth, Minneapolis and most recently St. Paul.

The new ordinance prohibits licensed medical and mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy for minors. Red Wing is a city of 16,000 people located an hour southeast of the Twin Cities. The vote was 6-0 with one abstention. OutFront Minnesota and Safe Space Red Wing were among the groups carrying the proposed ban to victory.

Officials took this step to proactively protect families and young people in their community. According to The Post Bulletin, council member Becky Norton said of “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy: “It’s not welcome here.” Council member Evan Brown said, “I don’t consider this is therapy of any kind.”

City Council members Becky Norton, Evan Brown, and Erin Buss

‘Conversion therapy’ is neither

Born Perfect Co-Founder Mathew Shurka agreed with Brown.

“Conversion therapy is neither therapy nor conversion. It is a combination of shame-based verbal abuse and misinformation that has been discredited by medical science — and by survivors,” Shurka said. “Conversion therapy reinforces depression, low self esteem, family breakdown, and suicidal tendencies. It changes neither sexual orientation nor gender identity. Red Wing’s city council took the right step to prevent serious harm to Red Wing’s youths, and to prevent parents from being misled.”

Starting at age 16, Shurka spent five years in conversion therapy, including being told that an overbearing mother and distant father caused his homosexuality — resulting in years of family conflict.

“Red Wing is saving lives by protecting young people from this dangerous practice,” Shurka said today. “They have reaffirmed that LGBTQ youth are born perfect and that no young person should be told that who they are is not OK.”

‘When we say these things, we mean them’

“Red Wing is joining dozens of other localities across the country who are standing up for LGBTQ youth to ensure that they cannot be subjected to this dangerous and harmful practice,” said Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which provides legal support to U.S. states and cities in implementing and defending bans. “In addition to preventing mental health professionals from engaging in this fraudulent practice with minors, this law will help to educate parents and others that attempts to change a younger person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are extremely damaging.”

The city’s Human Rights Commission had previously cleared the ban for council consideration. High school health teacher Lisa Hanson told the commission that “as a health teacher and an ally of those who have been marginalized in our society and in our community, I have to speak out because I have seen firsthand the harm that has come to these people because of the thinking that they can change.” Erin Buss, the City Council liaison to the commission, said: “Our city’s mission is to create a community where every person feels at home. Banning conversion therapy supports that endeavor and shows the youth — and adult — in our community that when we say these things, we mean them.”

Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

St. Paul City Council

St. Paul, Minn., Unanimously Votes to Ban Conversion Therapy During Virtual Hearing

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (June 17, 2020) — The St. Paul City Council voted unanimously, 7-0, this afternoon to ban conversion therapy in the capital city of Minnesota. The vote makes St. Paul the third city in the state to ban conversion therapy, after Minneapolis and Duluth.

The new ordinance prohibits licensed medical and mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors. Violations would incur fines of up to $1,000.

In this morning’s city council public-comment period, a local therapist, conversion therapy survivor, university researcher, and the executive director of OutFront Minnesota addressed the harmful practice of conversion therapy from multiple perspectives. The comments occurred during a virtual hearing aired on the city’s website.

No one spoke in defense of conversion therapy.

The advocate

During public comment, Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, noted that the United Nations has characterized conversion therapy as a form of torture. “When professional therapists tell people that something is fundamentally wrong with them,” Meyer said, “that causes significant harm.

Meyer said Minnesotans are surprised to learn from OutFront that conversion therapy still takes place, and survivors’ accounts of abuse come as a shock. “We also know that there’s been conferences planned with conversion therapists in Minnesota,” Meyer said. “There was one last year in our western suburbs, another this year canceled because of COVID. We know that our cities can take a stand and fight back against this harmful practice.”

The therapist

Michelle Bahr, a drug and alcohol counselor in nearby Shakopee, commented as a therapist and as the mother of a gay son.

“In my last 13 years of experience, I have sat with those who have been wounded by this horrible practice,” Bahr said. “For many, drugs and alcohol seem to be the only way to numb the pain that these programs cause. It’s interesting that we call this conversion therapy when as therapists we know that it is not what we therapists are trained to do. We are not trained to encourage somebody to change who and what they are. Conversion therapy is a form of child abuse. Please don’t forget that when we say yes to conversion therapy, we are saying yes to abusing children.”

Reflecting on how people are fooled into seeking to change a familiy member’s sexual orientation or gender identity, Bahr said, “We think about what are all the other parents out there doing, who are being duped by religious leaders into sending their kids to these so-called ‘therapists.’ Perhaps they are intertwined in a religious institution that is falsely telling them that their child can be cured or can be changed. We have lost way too many sons and daughters and children to suicide because of conversion therapy.”

The mental-health expert

Andy J. Johnson, Ph.D, associate professor of psychology at Bethel University, summarized the positions of the major mental-health and medical associations and emphasized that “this is not a matter of religion. This is a matter of putting an end to mental health malpractice. There is no scientifically rigorous evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of conversion therapy.”

The survivor

For 26-year-old Jory Miller, a Twin Cities conversion-therapy survivor, this was his second attempt to ban the practices that harmed him. His previous effort included testimony to a Minnesota House committee and letters to the editor. It was pretty disheartening, Miller said, when the Minnesota legislature in 2019 failed to ban conversion therapy statewide.

“I grew up very rural, and through just circumstance and coincidence my parents found out about my sexuality when I was 15 or 16 years old,” Miller said. During the ensuing conversion therapy, “a doctor of psychology was constantly alluding to sexual abuse that didn’t exist. They were looking for some sort of traumatic incident that didn’t happen to me. There was constant pressure to try to identify some sort of porn addiction which wasn’t a reality or even part of my coming out story. It was psychological torture that I endured for quite a while.”

When these fraudulent practices failed, Miller resorted to a kind of self-imposed aversion therapy.

“There was an incident where I took a JC Penney catalog and I went outside — my parents had horses,” Miller told City Council today. “And I would browse through the men’s section of the JC Penney catalog, and I would grab an electric fence to try to cure myself because the conversion therapy program wasn’t doing its job.”

The effort to change his sexual orientation continues to impact Miller’s mental health. “I’ve gone through quite a bit of therapy myself now to try to correct the thought processes that I created in response to the conversion therapy and the experiences that I had. [As a result of conversion therapy] I turned out to be quite confused about myself and my identity and how I can move through the world and what I could actually be and who I truly was.” Miller concluded his public comment saying, “To ban conversion therapy is necessary. It is nothing that children should endure and I hope you hear that this is something that St. Paul needs to pass immediately.”

The final vote

During the afternoon City Council meeting, the council reflected on the morning public comments. Councilmember Mitra Jalali agreed that conversion therapy is a form a torture and wondered why it took so long to ban. Councilmember Dai Thao pondered the potential impact of conversion therapy on himself, given the experiences of survivors.

Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Raquel Willis speaks to Black Trans Lives Matter protest

Born Perfect Celebrates Historic Supreme Court Ban against LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination

The whoops and cheers began among Born Perfect staff at 7:04 a.m. local time. The U.S. Supreme Court had just ruled that federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against LGBTQ+ workers. The Court ruled, in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.

For those of us who have experienced discrimination in our own lives, and who feared for unemployed friends in a troubled economy, the moment was exhilarating.

Raquel Willis speaks to Black Trans Lives Matter protest
Raquel Willis speaks to thousands during a protest in support of the Black Trans Lives Matter movement in front of the Brooklyn Museum, in Brooklyn, New York (Photo: Cole Witter)

“This decision is historic and gives a huge boost to our efforts to end the harms caused by conversion therapy,” said Born Perfect Co-Founder Mathew Shurka. “First and foremost, the ruling destigmatizes LGBTQ+ people by recognizing that they are entitled to nationwide legal protections. In addition, by providing nationwide protection against workplace bias, the Court has removed a major motivation for parents to try to prevent a child from growing up to be LGBTQ+. In so many cases, parents put their children in conversion therapy because they falsely believe they are protecting them from discrimination and bias. By helping to eliminate that discrimination in the workplace, the Court is helping to educate parents that their children can grow up to be productive members of society who will enjoy the same legal protections as others.  And finally, the Court’s decision signals to all LGBTQ+ people, including youth, that we are equal, valued, and respected members of society.”

At the same time, this ruling against workplace discrimination is coming down at a time when our country’s failure to come to terms with our history of virulent racism is painfully apparent.  

“This ruling inspires us, but it’s happening at a time when we must act anew to support and protect Black lives, particularly Black transgender lives and Black survivors of conversion therapy,” Shurka said. “So our work isn’t done. But this ruling provides a solid foundation for future progress and great hope for the future.”

More legal work to be done

“This is a huge victory not just for LGBTQ people, but for our country, which benefits enormously when LGBTQ people are permitted to participate and contribute on equal terms,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “Today’s decision will be remembered as a watershed in the history of LGBTQ rights, even as our country continues to grapple with the brutal legacy of racism. The transgender movement owes a particular debt of gratitude to Aimee Stephens, who courageously fought this battle in the months of her life.”

Despite today’s federal ruling, most states still permit discrimination in public accommodations, such as stores, restaurants, and hotels. And the Trump Administration continues to target LGBTQ people in the military as well as in federally funded programs in health, housing, and education. The Equality Act, proposed federal legislation that would add comprehensive protections for LGBTQ+ people to federal law, is necessary to address these remaining issues of legal discrimination.

Changing Southern LGBTQ+ lives

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, pointed out that the legislation will help more than 5 million LGBTQ workers in Southern states. “The ruling ensures a blanket of employment protections for LGBTQ people rather than the inadequate patchwork that has all but stopped at the borders of Southern states,” Beach-Ferrara said. “We lift up the reality that Southerners with multiple marginalized identities face multiple layers of oppression. Black LGBTQ Southerners, for example, not only confront employment discrimination but also police brutality, anti-Black racism, and disproportionate rates of living with HIV. As we celebrate today’s ruling, we must continue to push for dignity, respect, and justice for all LGBTQ people in every sphere of life.”

Decades of legal precedent

The ruling rested upon years of legal precedent in workplace discrimination, precedents that were established with the hard work of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, LGBTQ Advocates & Defenders, the Transgender Law Center, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and many other organizations.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, reflected, “We commend the Supreme Court’s decision to affirm that LGBTQ people are, and should be, protected from workplace discrimination under federal law. The Leadership Conference coordinated the legislative campaign to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and we are proud to see that historic law applied correctly.”

Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Black transgender rally at Brooklyn Museum protests violence and discrimination (Photo by julieannpietra)

Survivors Celebrate ‘This Is What Love In Action Looks Like’

A panel discussion among five conversion-therapy survivors, produced May 21, 2020, following a screening of the 2011 documentary, This Is What Love In Action Looks Like. The discussion was hosted by Born Perfect Virginia Ambassador Adam Trimmer.

Hey y’all! (Proper Virginia Greeting)  

My name is Adam Trimmer, and I’m the Virginia Ambassador for Born Perfect. I, along with many others, have fought hard by speaking at different health regulatory board meetings, and legislative sessions to help bring about an end to the harmful and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

As you know, Virginia is now the 20th state to pass legislation that protects youth from conversion therapy. This is an incredible step, and we are really excited to have you join us. This was our first digital panel and movie screening, so feel free to share about it!   

The Movie

This is What Love in Action Looks Like. Morgan Fox, Director. Please take a moment to learn about the very talented director behind the film that we show here. Visit his website to discover more of his projects over his impressive 15-year career as a producer and director.

Movie trailer on YouTube
Full movie for rent on Vimeo

Individuals and Organizations Represented on the Panel

Mathew Shurka
Co-Founder, Born Perfect
Conversion Therapy Survivor

Mathew experienced conversion therapy in Virginia, and today he is helping end the practice. As the co-founder of Born Perfect, he has helped survivors from across the country become fierce advocates for our community. Explore our website to learn more about the campaign, the staff members, and how you can get involved!

Garrard Conley
Author, Boy Erased
Creator and Producer, UnErased: A History of Conversion Therapy in America

If you have not listened to Garrard’s podcast, UnErased, I would highly recommend giving it a listen prior to this screening. His memoir, Boy Erased, was adapted into the Golden Globe-nominated film of the same name in 2018, and the UnErased podcast tells more of the story. Visit his website to learn more about Garrard’s work, including his memoir, podcast, interviews, and other publications.

Luke Wilson
Ph.D Candidate at Florida Atlantic University
Conversion Therapy Survivor

Luke Wilson has brought a lot of visibility to Virginians about conversion therapy’s existence on college campuses. Luke gave this phenomenal talk at Florida Atlantic University, and he also wrote an article for Queerty and RVA Magazine.

Lisa Linsky, Esq.
Partner, McDermott Will & Emery
Outside Counsel, Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.

Please visit the Stop Conversion Therapy website for valuable information gathered by the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. The site includes a downloadable copy of “The Pernicious Myth of Conversion Therapy”, also known as “The White Paper.” Lisa Linsky was the architect and principal drafter of The White Paper; it is both an educational and emotional journey through the history of conversion therapy.

Additional Information

Pray Away Film – Visit to discover more about the upcoming movie, Pray Away.

Mama Bears – Discover the Mama Bears organization at

Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).