In 2007, three South African teenage boys died from starvation and physical torture in a conversion camp, according to The Telergraph. Although this was ten years ago, it is still a common occurrence. Conversion therapy is a set of dangerous, deadly, and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity. Conversion therapy is a violation of human rights and needs to be put to an end.
Many people believe that conversion therapy is just conversational therapy to turn somebody straight or back to the gender norm. This is not the case. There are a variety of methods to “torture the gay away”.
\TC, a 19-year-old gay man, was put into conversion therapy at 15 after coming out to his parents. The forms of torture he endured included: three hours of aversion therapy (behavioral therapy that is used to get rid of an undesirable trait by associating the trait with an unpleasant effect), one hour of electroshock therapy, and occasional physical abuse each day.
TC recalled, according to the Huffington Post, “They were able to turn us against ourselves. This is what drew so many people to suicide. We all shared a sense of loathing towards who we were and who we loved. It wasn’t just your regular ‘I hate myself.’ It was a disgust with the person you were and you wanted to do anything you could to change…”
Another form of torture that many people have to endure in conversion therapy is the process of deconstruction. The goal of deconstruction is to make someone loathe themselves or who they are, in this case, being LGBTQ. An example of deconstruction therapy is making the victim watch gay porn while they’re being tortured, which includes pouring freezing ice water over the victim, burning them with hot metal, or eating their own defecation. The reasoning behind this is to make the victim associate gay interactions with pain and disgust.
The next step after deconstruction is reconstruction. Reconstruction is the idea of building a new, better, and straight person. “They removed us from everything that made us a unique person, and instead made us a walking, talking, robot for Jesus. They [remade] us… How to eat, talk, walk, dress, believe, even breathe. We were no longer people at the end of the program”
The fact that most victims of conversion therapy either killed themselves or died from the things being done to them is one of the worst things about this method of therapy. Therapy is usually meant to make a person feel better, physically or mentally. Conversion therapy does neither. The horrendous stories that the survivors leave with are chilling and sound as if they aren’t real. They sound as if people are making them up just to exaggerate the things that the queer community goes through. The stories aren’t an exaggeration in the slightest, which makes the reality of queer people’s struggles even more prominent. Even though these methods are terrible, people often ask if they actually work.
As the Human Rights Campaign states, “Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful.”
If the therapy did work, that still wouldn’t justify this violation of human rights. The LGBT+ community is an important group of people and shouldn’t be forced to change who they are. Queer people are still people and it is important to treat them that way, so leading them towards suicide and years of trauma is a completely unacceptable thing to do. The LGBT+ community should be taught how to love, not hate themselves. Nobody, regardless of sexuality, gender, culture, etc., should be forced to change just because their views collide with others’. Conversion therapy is illegal in only five states, and legal in a majority of countries around the globe. This shows just how much work needs to be done to put an end to this horrible ineffective therapy that ruins lives around the world.