August 13, 2020
WATCH: Victor Madrigal-Borloz Argues for Conversion Therapy Ban
In July, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, presented his report on the practices of so-called “conversion therapy” to the UN Human Rights Council. Shortly after, he conducted two online sessions to elaborate on key findings of the report and engage in further conversation with interested stakeholders. Notably, in the report, Mr. Madrigal-Borloz called for a global ban on the practice, which, he explained, interferes with an individual’s “personal integrity and autonomy.”
The Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School hosted Mr. Madrigal-Borloz on July 10 and 14 where he discussed the harmful practice of conversion therapy in a virtual launch for the public. As discussed at the event and in the report, conversion therapy is a term used to describe a wide range of interventions, all of which have in common the belief that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity can and should be changed. These practices 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.
The launch events also featured UN representatives who endorsed the Independent Expert’s recommendations. Ilze Brands-Kehrs, the United Nation’s Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, noted the “strong connections between the report’s findings and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably through the principle of equality.”
“The development agenda cannot leave anyone behind, including LGBT persons, who see their existence and identity challenged, demonized, and labelled as abnormal,” she said. “The report’s findings also resonate with States’ commitment under SDG 3, to ensure a healthy life and promote well-being for all at all ages.”
UN Deputy Representative Andrés Sánchez added that “the description of the pain and suffering of people who have undergone these so-called conversion therapies should deeply concern the entire population and the States to ensure that there is respect and guarantees of their human rights.”
Conversion therapy practices currently happen in a multitude of countries, in all regions of the world. Few states have instituted bans on practices of so-called “conversion therapy”, but many countries have been making strides to ensure prohibitions are enacted, as was recently the case in Germany. When presenting his report to the Human Rights Council in July, several of the State representatives present at the interactive dialogue indicated support to the Independent Expert’s global call to ban conversion therapy. As Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, Mr. Madrigal-Borloz is tasked with addressing the multiple, intersecting and aggravated forms of violence and discrimination faced by persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, of which conversion therapy is one.
You can watch the video now below with captioning in English. If you would like to watch the video in Spanish, please visit the UN Independent Expert’s Facebook page.
Thanks to Égides Alliances and the Institute for Race & Equality for providing simultaneous interpretation into French and Portuguese during both sessions. Thanks to the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights for the support to the mandate.
Unfortunately, the interpretation audio was not recorded on zoom, but you can read the report in all UN official languages here as well as a summary.