Despite debunking, conversion therapy persists around globe

by Ellen Wulfhorst | @EJWulfhorst | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 20 February 2018 15:08 GMT

Members of Brazil's Movimento dos Sem-Teto (Roofless Movement) and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, are pictured in a vacant apartment during the occupation of an empty building in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 3, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

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Typically admitted to clinics by their families, gay people are forced to undergo beatings, solitary confinement, force-feeding of medicine and even "corrective rape"

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK, Feb 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Conversion therapy is making headlines, reigniting calls for banning the treatments claiming to cure gay people.

Here is the status of conversion therapy in various locations around the world.

- Conversion therapy is banned nationwide in Brazil, Ecuador and Malta.

- While it is illegal in Ecuador, gay people, particularly lesbians, are forced to undergo conversion therapy in secret clinics, campaigners say.

Typically admitted to clinics by their families, they are forced to undergo beatings, solitary confinement, force-feeding of medicine and even "corrective rape" aimed at changing their sexual orientation.

- Although there is no federal ban in Canada, nearly half the population lives in regions with local laws prohibiting the practice.

- In the U.S. state of Washington, a bill is pending that would ban healthcare professionals from trying to convert the sexuality of a minor.

In Maine, a public hearing was held last week on a bill to ban such therapy, while in New Hampshire a similar bill is pending again after a narrow defeat last month.

- Brutal and extreme conversion methods including torture, forced internment, electroshock therapy and sexual violence have been documented in Ecuador, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and China.

- Laws in Argentina, Fiji and Samoa do not specifically ban conversion therapy but prohibit any medical diagnosis based exclusively on a person's sexual orientation.

- Britain's state-run National Health Service has signed a memorandum of understanding that opposes conversion therapy.

- Australia's state of Victoria has set up a watchdog to crack down on conversion therapy providers.

Sources: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch in New York, and Taller de Comunicacion Mujer of Ecuador

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Robert Carmichael and Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit

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