A Long Overdue Apology

Conversion Therapy Spiritual Leaders BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of insidehook.com

One of the battles that the LGBTQ community has always given up on has been waged by religious institutions who have advocated the marginalization and abuse of those who identify with the rainbow spectrum for centuries.

Now, for the first time, hundreds of religious leaders have made a statement against institutionalized violence through conversion therapy.

Through a declaration led by the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives, more than 370 international spiritual leaders have signed a statement demanding a global ban on the controversial therapy that has forced millions of LGBTQ people to suffer physical and psychological abuse and perpetuated a horrific stigma.

Although religious institutions have been guilty of inscribing homosexuality in history books as a “perversion,” with the arrival of Freudian psychoanalysis, homosexuality began to be debated at scientific tables, with Freud himself dismantling the label of “pathology” on sexual preference.

However, methods such as hysterectomy, clitoral ablation, hormonal, and/or electroshock treatment have been used even until recent years.

It was not until 2012 that California became the first state to prohibit reparative or conversion therapies for minors, even though the American Psychiatric Association (APA) eliminated homosexuality from DSM-IV in 1987.

But for religious leaders, the pathologization of homosexuality was always a strong argument until now.

According to the New York Times, more than 300 religious leaders from over 35 countries signed a declaration that calls for a ban on conversion therapy and an end to the criminalization of people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We recognize that certain religious teachings have, throughout the ages, been misused to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex,” the commission said in a statement. “This must change.”

Some of the most prominent religious leaders who signed the declaration include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond. M.Tutu of South Africa, a 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner; Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, the president of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California; the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ; and the Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, president of the Alliance of Baptists.

According to the Times, about 20 states maintain some kind of ban on the practice. However, according to Christy Mallory, director of state and local policy at the U.C.L.A. Law School’s Williams Institute, the fact that bans or protections for the LGBTQ community are not universal “leaves the most vulnerable LGBTQ people, particularly kids, more at risk in the states where there are no laws in place.”

This includes states that support religious institutions to continue to carry out this type of institutionalized abuse.

The pledge by the religious leaders calls “for all attempts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression” to end and for the practice to be banned.

The pledge said, “We ask for forgiveness from those whose lives have been damaged and destroyed on the pretext of religious teaching.

With information from the New York Times.