However, there is no reliable proof that this form of therapy works or converts the sexuality of a person. Medical sources also say that such acts are more harmful than useful, warning users from damage.
Multiple countries across the globe have opened up about their opinions on the same. The United States and the United Kingdom have expressed concerns over the ethics and validity of the therapy. Similarly, Asia, Europe, and Oceania passed laws against the therapy.
1. What happens in conversion therapy?
According to a 2009 report of the American Psychological Association, the techniques therapists have used to try to change sexual orientation and gender identity include inducing nausea, vomiting, or paralysis while showing the patient homoerotic images; providing electric shocks; having the individual snap an elastic band around the wrist when aroused by same-sex erotic images or thoughts; using shame to create aversion to same-sex attractions; orgasmic reconditioning; and satiation therapy.
Other techniques include trying to make patients’ behavior more stereotypically feminine or masculine, teaching heterosexual dating skills, using hypnosis to try to redirect desires and arousal, and other techniques—all based on the scientifically discredited premise that being LGBT is a defect or disorder.
People who have been through conversion therapy report ‘talk therapy’: such as the idea that an overbearing mother and a distant father make a child gay. The psychologists would brainwash and pull up hypothetical situations. This would ultimately force the patient to doubt his close circles: family, relatives and close friends from their childhood.
In an April 2012 essay in The American Prospect, writer Gabriel Arana describes his “ex-gay” therapy experience. His therapist blamed his parents for Arana’s homosexuality and urged him to distance himself from his female best friends.
2. Why psychologists say conversion therapy doesn’t work!
Homosexuality is not a mental disorder. Therefore the American Psychological Association (APA) does not recommend “curing” same-sex attraction in any case.
Instead, societal ignorance, prejudice and pressure to conform to heterosexual desires are the real dangers to gay people’s mental health, according to a 1997 statement on “conversion” or “reparative” therapy by the APA.
The 2009 APA task force found that conversion therapies have little evidence to back them up. The best-quality studies were more recent and qualitative, meaning they focused not on the statistical effectiveness of treatment, but of the subjective experience.
“These studies show that enduring change to an individual’s sexual orientation is uncommon,” the task force wrote in their 2009 report. The participants continued to report same-sex attractions after the conversion therapy and were not significantly more attracted to the opposite gender. These studies did find that conversion therapy could be harmful, however. Negative effects included “loss of sexual feeling, depression, suicidality, and anxiety.”
Also, read What Makes People Gay? Genes or Choice?
3. How did the conversion therapy start?
If you go back in time and talk to people, they would still say “homosexuality is deviant, sinful and even criminal.”
In the late 19th century, psychiatrists and doctors began to address homosexuality, too. They labeled same-sex desire in medical terms—and started looking for ways to reverse it.
There were plenty of theories as to why people were homosexual.
For Eugen Steinach, homosexuality was rooted in a man’s testicles. Following this, an immediate surge in testicle transplantation. In this process, a gay man will be castrated and given “heterosexual testicles”.
Others theorized that homosexuality was a psychological disorder instead. Sigmund Freud hypothesized that humans are born innately bisexual and that homosexual people become gay because of their conditioning. Freud, however, emphasizes that homosexuality isn’t a disease.
Some LGBT people were given electroconvulsive therapy, but others were subjected to even more extreme techniques like lobotomies. Amongst these, the drastic ones were shock therapies that inserted electrodes directly into the patient’s brains.
LGBT people protested against these cruel forms of treatment. But to no vain, the general public still believing it to be a disease. The American Psychiatric Association also fell to this, classifying homosexuality to be a psychiatric disorder.
In 1973, the APA removed homosexuality from the DSM, its influential manual of psychiatric disorders, and medical professionals began to distance themselves from techniques they had once embraced.
4. What’s happening with the law in India?
Conversion therapy is, and will always be illegal in India. It is an infringement of the Fundamental Rights of a person and any form of it to be shun by us all. However, conversion therapy is still in existence, this is because homophobia is still prevalent and most Indians are not properly aware of it yet.
Things are shining bright for the LGBT community in India after Section 377 was officially abolished on September 6th, 2018. The(IPS) declared that ‘homosexuality should not be treated as an illness’.
Also read: How To Come Out To Your Indian Parents