Attempts to ‘cure’ lesbian, gay and bisexual people aren’t medically justified and endanger patients, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said today.
And it wants those who try to carry out the unjustified ‘therapies’ exposed and punished by national authorities.
PAHO’s released a position statement on the issue to tie in with International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).
Not only is the Washington DC-based PAHO the oldest public health organization on the planet, at 110 years old, but it is also part of the UN health system, as the Americas office of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The statement today calls on governments, academic institutions, professional associations and the media to expose these practices and to promote respect for diversity.
‘Since homosexuality is not a disorder or a disease, it does not require a cure. There is no medical indication for changing sexual orientation,’ said PAHO director Dr Mirta Roses Periago.
She added that attempts to turn gay and bisexual peole straight, known as ‘reparative therapy’ or ‘conversion therapy’ represent ‘a serious threat to the health and well-being – even the lives – of affected people.’
PAHO says there is a professional consensus that homosexuality is natural in humans and cannot be regarded as a pathological condition.
But it says, several United Nations bodies have confirmed the existence of ‘therapists’ and ‘clinics’ that promote treatment intended to change the sexual orientation of non-heterosexual people.
The organization also points out that there are no ‘rigorous scientific studies’ that show gay ‘cures’ work but there is lots of evidence that they do damage, leaving victims with guilt, shame, depression and anxiety – sometimes so severe they commit suicide.
And it points out some gay ‘cure’ clinics operate secretly, keeping teenagers as prisoners, without their consent, putting them through degrading ‘treatments’, including physical and sexual harassment.
‘These practices are unjustifiable and should be denounced and subject to sanctions and penalties under national legislation,’ said Roses.
‘These supposed conversion therapies constitute a violation of the ethical principles of health care and violate human rights that are protected by international and regional agreements.’
PAHO wants the clinics stopped, denounced and punished, with the people involved reported to the authorities.
And it calls on training for health professionals to include courses on sexuality focusing on respect for diversity and eliminating hate.
It also wants the media to expose homophobia and homophobes as dangers to public health and people’s rights and dignity.