Conversion Therapy and the Problem with Banning
Finland is a place of many gifts of nature. In the winter, one can see the Northern Lights glowing across the sky and in the summer, the sun stays in the sky past midnight. There are igloos and ice hotels, ski resorts, beaches, hiking trails, national parks, and hundreds of historical buildings and monuments. People travel from all over the world to experience the natural beauty of Finland. Another reason people love Finland—its safe and hospitable atmosphere. According to World Atlas, Finland is the 17th safest country in the world, and violent crime rarely occurs. Included in this hospitable atmosphere is the wide acceptance of both LGBT travelers and citizens. Finland has taken many steps to provide equal rights and protections to its LGBT citizens: allowing same-sex marriages and recognizing them the same way as marriages between men and women, allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, and even allowing gay and transgender people to serve in the military. However, Finland’s government, along with many other federal governments around the world, is yet to act on a large issue related to LGBT citizens—conversion therapy.
Identification of Problem
Conversion therapy, or sometimes called reparative therapy, relates to actions or “treatments” performed on a homosexual person to reduce or erase their same-sex attraction or to make a person’s gender identity reflect their sex. In the past, a patient undergoing conversion therapy may have been institutionalized or subjected to electroshock therapy. While the previously mentioned methods have fallen out of use, nowadays most conversion therapy practices include using shame to reduce same-sex attraction; showing the patient homoerotic images and then inducing physical pain (including nausea, vomiting, or even paralysis); and orgasmic reconditioning. These methods can not only cause physical harm, but psychological harm as well, as seen in many patients of conversion therapy. There is also no scientific evidence that conversion therapy actually “fixes” homosexuality or one’s gender identity. While the acceptance of the LGBT community grows around the world, there are still many places where conversion therapy is completely legal, and many LGBT minors are still subjected to it to this day.
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As the discussion continues regarding the LGBT community and their rights, the delegation of Finland implores the other members of the UN to join Finland in the fight to protect the rights and health of the LGBT community. There is currently a ban pending within the government of Finland, and many other countries are considering passing laws to ban doctors or other people from performing conversion therapy. Finland’s widespread acceptance of the LGBT community means that the government will likely only receive minimal backlash. In other countries, however, that may vary. Spreading awareness for the LGBT community and making sure the public knows scientific facts about LGBT individuals and conversion therapy may break anti-LGBT views, even in religious settings. Illegalizing this unsound, potentially damaging practice could save LGBT people, especially minors, from the pain of someone trying to strip away a unique and permanent part of their identity.
Conversion therapy is always performed on the basis that homosexuality or a transgender identity is a disorder of some kind that can be fixed. However, many major health organizations have denounced this claim. In 1992, the World Health Organization stated that while homosexuality had been considered “a sexual deviation presumed to reflect an underlying personality disorder,” in the past, later research did not support this idea. The American Psychological Association has also discredited homosexuality as being a byproduct or symptom of maladjustment or mental issues. Along with this information, other health organizations have stated that conversion therapy has no scientific backing. The American College of Physicians stated that research rejects conversion therapy as a useful or effective way to treat LGBT people. Further research shows that reparative therapy may cause physical or emotional harm to LGBT persons. Adolescents subjected to conversion therapy may be at an increased risk of harm. Other countries have banned conversion therapy due to danger to participants. China outlawed conversion therapy because of accounts of sexual violence and torture, and South African citizens had been abused, assaulted, or even murdered. Children especially can be in danger of things like these. As a child, a boy named Kirk Murphy exhibited many stereotypically feminine behaviors, which led his mother to subject him to an experiment at UCLA. Over the course of ten months, Kirk was put through physical punishments and other techniques to change his behavior. While the doctor leading the experiment claims Kirk’s treatment was successful, his family thought otherwise—not only did Kirk remain gay his whole life, his personality had changed, and he believed his sexuality made him broken. At the age of 38, he committed suicide. His family believes his “treatments” affected him for his whole life and led to his suicide. Kirk Murphy’s life is one of the greatest examples of the affects of conversion therapy. As a child, Kirk was subjected to reparative therapy by his parents. His sexuality did not change because of his treatment, but his mind was permanently affected. The dangers of conversion therapy could affect even the youngest of the world. Illegalizing conversion therapy protects members of the LGBT community from damage to their physical, mental, and emotional health.
Acceptance is growing worldwide for the LGBT community, and individuals are gaining the rights and protections they deserve. However, in many nations, LGBT persons still face a major threat from conversion therapy, especially to minors whose parents choose to put them through treatment. Finland must not only allow its LGBT citizens to live without restrictions, but to protect them as well. Finland calls its fellow members of the UN to help solve this problem as it works to outlaw conversion therapy in its own nation. The nation of Finland gladly anticipates working to grant LGBT individuals the same rights and liberties as other citizens.