SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (March 23, 2016)—Today, the world’s largest organization of mental health professionals—representing more than 200,000 people in 118 countries—called for an end to the discredited practice of “conversion therapy,” which is linked to serious harms, including depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
In a statement issued today, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) says: “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.”
“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.”
Today’s announcement comes less than a year after the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a groundbreaking 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 NCLR delivered testimony at the 2014 review of the United States. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also recently released a report, “Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth,” following independent statements by President Obama, Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy calling for an end to the practices.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has been at the forefront of the movement to the end the practice. In 2014, it launched its #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy by protecting youth from these practices through legislation and litigation and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Five jurisdictions—California, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Oregon, and Illinois—now 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 Federal Trade Commission to investigate the false and misleading claims used by the conversion therapy industry.
Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.