Why this story matters:
Although the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1990, some Polish institutions still offer conversion therapies for LGBTQ people.They are mostly linked to the Catholic Church and their program includes group prayer and playing football.
These practices are widely rejected by the medical establishment.
There is no evidence proving conversion therapy works -- on the contrary, research shows that it can have dire psychological consequences.
The recent UN appeal is a response to a report about the discrimination of LGBTQ people in Poland prepared by NGOs. It is not the first time that an international institution has taken an interest in the subject. In early March, the European Parliament debated a resolution that would call on member states to ban such practices.
The fact that as many as 25 Polish MEPs voted against it is a sad testimony to our politicians' attitude towards LGBTQ Poles.
Details from the story:
- “Conversion therapy,” also known as “reparative therapy,” is an umbrella term for a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
- The negative psychological effects of such therapies include depression, guilt, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. These practices also enforce harmful stereotypes, for example that homosexuality stems from the absence of a father or an overbearing mother.
- Conversion centers and groups still operate in many Polish cities. The most prominent ones include "Odwaga" in Lublin, which received an award from the Ministry of Development for "spiritual and therapeutic support [provided to] people with unwanted sexual tendencies and their families" in March 2017.
- The appeal to respect the rights of LGBTQ people was part of the annual report adopted by the European Parliament on the status of fundamental human rights in the EU in 2016. 435 MEPs voted in favour of the appeal, 109 against (including 25 Polish MEPs).
- In 2016, Malta was the first country in Europe to ban conversion therapy.