The Commissioner for Human Rights has called on all states of the Council of Europe to ban ‘conversion therapy’. The Commissioner’s intercession is welcome as ‘conversion therapy’ practices are dehumanising, harmful and have no place in our society.

Commissioner for Human Rights calls for Conversion Therapy Ban in Europe

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, has published a statement demanding all member states of the Council of Europe end conversion therapy practices. She is calling for this ban to be done through a ‘comprehensive Human Rights-based approach’.

There are 46 member states in the Council of Europe. However, not many have a full ban of conversion therapy. Malta was the first European country to ban conversion therapy back in 2016. Countries like Germany, Spain, Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Finland are making progress, with some effectively banning it.

The statement of the Commissioner for Human Rights firmly explains that ‘there is nothing therapeutic about so-called conversion therapies’. ‘Conversion therapy’ seeks to change queer and trans people into being cis and heterosexual through inhumane practices. Being LGBTQ+ is not an illness and needs no cure. More importantly, conversion therapy has ‘no place in a human rights-based society’. Cis-heteronormativity is the actual outlier, as it fails to represent the diversity of human identities and sexualities.

LGBTQ+ People are still forced to undergo Conversion Practices

The Commissioner for Human Rights also highlighted that many countries in Europe still use ‘conversion therapy’ under the false guise of ‘medical or religious tenets’. As pointed out, victims and survivors rarely get recognition of all the harm ‘conversion therapy’ practices caused to their mental health and overall well-being.

Researchers estimate that 2% of LGBTQ+ people in Europe have undergone such ‘conversion’ practices. Around 5% have been offered to undergo them. Numbers are likely to be much higher given the secrecy of these practices. In the UK, approximately one fifth of queer and trans people have experienced ‘conversion therapy’. These practices disproportionately affect trans and young LGBTQ+ people.

The Commissioner for Human Rights concluded by welcoming current efforts by member EU states to adopt a legal ban of conversion therapy. These bans need to be as precise as possible and be ‘in line with the human rights framework’. LGBTQ+ people are an ‘expression of the rich diversity of human beings’. No government should have the right to oppress and repress them.

Campaigns Against Conversion Therapy

Here are three campaigns fighting for a conversion therapy ban in the UK:

  • Stonewall has been campaigning for this ban for years. They launched a short film alongside 21 other LGBTQ+ organisations, based on the real-life experiences of conversion therapy survivors.
  • Join the campaign at Unite the Union as they seek to stop conversion therapy now.
  • Humanists UK also calls for the banning of all conversion therapy practices.
  • The Trevor Project is campaigning for the same cause.
  • In New Zealand, the End Conversion Therapy group calls for more action, even though the law has banned conversion therapy practices.

GenderGP condemns all practices of ‘conversion therapy’ and argues in favour of a full ban, meaning an immediate ban including trans and gender diverse people.