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The call for a global ban on conversion therapy
August 4, 2021
Twenty-five years ago, I told my family I was a lesbian. It was Christmas Eve, and I was terrified. Yet, my parents took the news in stride, assured me that they loved me, and then worked through their own complicated feelings in an effort to reconcile this news with their own vision of who I was and how my life would unfold.
I was lucky, Many aren’t. In the United States alone, it is estimated that more than 700,000 people have been subjected to conversion therapy, which the United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (IE SOGI) described as:
Deeply harmful interventions that rely on the medically false idea that LGBT and other gender diverse persons are sick, inflicting severe pain and suffering, and resulting in long-lasting psychological and physical damage.
This isn’t an easy topic to explore, and it is often contentious. In this issue of The Weekly Sift. Shift. Lift. I share a few links that explore the history and legacy of conversion therapy and highlight some of the good work being done to educate, support, and advocate for survivors.
In May 2020, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the Independent Expert referenced above, stood before the United Nations Human Rights Council and called for a global ban on conversion therapy.
In his accompanying report, Madrigal-Borloz laid out evidence showing that:
Such practices constitute an egregious violation of rights to bodily autonomy, health and free expression of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Ultimately, when conducted forcibly, they also represent a breach to the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.
Read Practices of so-called “conversion therapy” (IE SOGI, May 2020), a summary, and/or press release for an overview of his methodology, research, and recommendations.
Yesterday, a new documentary launched on Netflix: Pray Away. The 100-minute film follows former leaders of the ex-gay movement as they “contend with the aftermath unleashed by their actions, while a survivor”—Julie Rodgers, author of Outlove : A Queer Christian Survival Story (Broadleaf Books, 2021)—“seeks healing and acceptance from more than a decade of trauma.”
Grab your tissues and, if you are a survivor of conversion therapy, maybe watch this movie with a friend or loved one nearby.
The team behind Pray Away compiled some incredible resources to support the film’s viewers, encourage discussion, and spark action. These include:
Thanks for being here. Until next time,
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I am on a mission to explore horrible histories and wicked problems through the work of academics, artists, and activists. In addition to The Weekly, the bite-sized feature you are reading now, I publish a much longer, more comprehensive newsletter called Sift. Shift. Lift. once a month.
And, on Sundays, I introduce readers to someone clever, curious, & compassionate in Sifting, shifting, and lifting. Someone who is digging deep, changing hearts and minds, and lifting others up in the process.
Coming up next:
Sifting, shifting, and lifting with . . . Natalia Zukerman (August 8, 2021)
The Weekly (August 11, 2021)
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