A pan-American campaign against “reparative” therapies

In May 17th 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) wrote homosexuality out of its International Diseases and Other Health Problems Statistics Manual” (DSM). For this reason, this date was chosen to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). Although transgenderism still figures in the DSM, medical consensus in many countries affirm that treatment must be available for Trans people to have their bodies adjusted to their gender perception. In line with these orientations, the WHO and the international human rights system oppose all kinds of treatment that aim at “curing” homosexuality.

Despite this, all over the world and in various social and cultural contexts all over Latin America and the Caribbean, cases are reported each year of people who are locked up in so called “psychiatric wards” endorsed and/or managed by certain religious institutions or even public ones, in order to be “cured”. Same-sex attraction or gender variance are considered by these institutions and those who endorse them as a “diversion of personality” that may be “corrected” through pardon and religious beliefs, accompanied with punishment, anguish and physical and psychological torture.

Unable to “cure” their desire, LGBT people in many cases develop feelings of guilt and low self-esteem and self-destructive behaviors. They may even attempt to commit suicide, a phenomenon that is growing particularly among youth and adolescents. Furthermore, such misguided and misleading initiatives, usually based on religious premises, encourage and foster verbal and physical abuse, and even the killing of persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. All these are preventable deaths, to which the State must pay attention and take preventive measures.

Homosexuality and transsexualism are naturally occurring expressions of human diversity and are protected by the principles of liberty, equality and human dignity enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments. Still, besides being systematically spread in religious spaces, intolerant fundamentalist discourses are increasingly spilling over into spaces where the principle of secularism should prevail, such as the legislative, executive and judicial sectors, thus influencing the decisions that should be informed by wide scientific consensus and treaties and agreements signed by the States at the international, national and local levels, rather than by the sacred books of any religion, no matter how mainstream they may be.

Those who support the campaign “CURES THAT KILL” oppose the so called “therapies” which aim to “repair,” or “correct,” or “cure” homosexuality and transgenderism. We recognize the positive existence of religious voices in favor of acceptance and respect for all forms of life and unite our voices in a call to religious leaders to be consistent with the principles and rights regarding life, equality, dignity and diversity, and to refrain from promoting lesbophobia, homophobia and transphobia.

We DEMAND that governments in Latin American and Caribbean countries adhere to the principle of secularism and take concrete measures to combat “reparative” practices targeting homosexuality and transgenderism, including the disruption of any public funding to institutions or individuals that have not clearly distanced themselves from such practices.

We DEMAND that the national or local public health systems exclude all practitioners who practice or promote “reparative” approaches.

We URGE private donors to make the explicit opposition to “reparative” therapy a criterion for approval of grants.

We REQUEST that the religious authorities strongly condemn the use of discourses that suggest and / or promote “reparative” processes, and instead promote acceptance of sexual and gender diversity as natural, normal, and health variables of human nature.