What exactly is conversion therapy? And since Queer Taboo is no more in India, why people are still practicing such therapies? This question always popped up inside my head, when I started getting to know horrifying stories about conversion therapy. It’s been around since the 19th century.
It’s an effort to change someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation, it is also known as “reparative therapy”. It puts an adverse effect on mental health in terms of shame, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. It also fractures the relationship between parents and child. Also, LGBT people tend to have feelings of family rejection and disappointment. More likely, many people have attempted suicide also. Hence, It does not put any benefit to the person, in terms of changing their sexual orientation. According to studies, till date more than a million LGBTQ people have subjected to the horrors of conversion therapy.
Many medical and mental health organizations have already rejected this practice, but due to societal and family discrimination against LGBTQ community, some people are still practicing conversion therapy. Some religious groups believe that anyone can change their own gender identity by religious prayer or by such therapies. Normally, it is practiced by a few licensed professionals from the health care sector or by spiritual advisors. Hence, if the person is taken to such therapies without their concern it literally violates the principle of justice.
- Recently, a 21-year-old, queer girl from Kerala committed suicide in Goa after undergoing treatment for her mental trauma when she was forcefully sent into conversion therapy by her parents.
- A boy was given shock treatment in Delhi’s local hospital during his conversion therapy.
- A girl from Mumbai was overdosed in her conversion therapy by some illegal baba in her community.
- Some psychiatrists still practice conversion therapy due to their own homophobia. And sometimes they tag being gay as a mental disorder.
- Some baba threatened a 13-year-old queer boy by making him run a hundred miles, and not letting him sleep. The guy was badly traumatized that he still cuts himself every night.
- Some are literally disowned by their own parents after coming out to them.
- A girl was hypnotized, which led to memory loss.
- Many people believe that, homosexuality is sin and God will send such people to hell. Hence, the purification of the queer person is a must.
- A guy came out to his roommates about his sexuality, they all made fun of him and raped him.
- The 19-year-old came out to his family. Surprisingly, his parents accepted him, but his uncle took advantage and raped him in his bedroom.
- Queer girls get forcefully married to a boy, without their consent. Believing that once they have sex with a boy and conceives a baby everything will change.
- Parents try to send their child to therapy centers if that doesn’t work, they send them to the military, in order to make them a man.
These are the disturbing stories, I read about conversion therapy victims in India, and surely there are many more. While no law in India accepts conversion therapy, it is a clearly illegal act. However, the biggest battle is that people are performing such therapies and charge for it, no matter what the situation is.
What all things happen in conversion therapy?
Here’s what I found out about conversion therapy. (The pointers might not cover everything)
- The person is hypnotized that they cannot be born gay.
- In some cases, parents get their child’s hormones checked by the doctors.
- Doctors perform electroshock, earlier they also used to perform lobotomies.
- In spiritual intervention, they perform traumatizing acts on a person. By making them do horrifying things, they convince that if you don’t change then parents and society will disown you.
- Administration of nausea-inducing drugs and heavy doses of medications.
- Some therapy centers make people write about their encounters with sexual fantasies and share them with everyone. Then give them spiritual verses to sort of combat thoughts that they had.
- Some therapists literally ask queer person’s size of the genitals and ask to show it to them.
- Therapists or therapy centers perform mentally scarring sessions.
- An individual is brainwashed into believing homosexuality is caused by some trauma or by watching television or by peer pressure.
Scary, right? Imagine how it must be for the conversion therapy survivor!
I think the duty of a psychiatrist, educational institutes, every parent, and every individual is to provide homosexuals with support and care. We must help them with their own self-acceptance. Every human being deserves love and acceptance in society. The conversation about sexuality and gender identity must be loud.
Because love is love!