The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Dunja Mijatovic, denounced this Thursday that “conversion therapies” to change sexual orientation and impose heterosexuality “continue to be practised” in European countries.
In a report released this Thursday, Mijatovic urged Council of Europe member states to end “conversion therapies”.
These supposed therapies can be carried out through different methods, such as electroshock, hormone medication or exorcism rituals.
“These interventions continue to be practiced in Europe, often legally and usually under medical or religious pretext. Despite the disastrous consequences of these interventions, which are profound and long-lasting, it is difficult for victims to have the damage suffered recognized and to obtain compensation. This situation is no longer sustainable”, highlighted Dunja Mijatovic in the report, quoted by the agency France-Presse (AFP).
“It is estimated that, in the European Union, 2% of LGBT people (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) have suffered such practices and 5% have received proposals for conversion, but the real numbers could be much higher”, he added.
According to the most recent data available in the UK, around a fifth of LGBT people have experienced conversion practices, and trans people are disproportionately targeted by such interventions, he warned.
“I am also particularly concerned about the findings that, globally, children and young people are at a much greater risk of being subjected to these” practices, he stressed.
“Conversion therapies” can cause depression, anxiety, self-hatred or suicidal thoughts, recalled the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.
Dunja Mijatovic noted, however, a “recent trend” to ban such methods in Europe. Malta was the first European country to ban them in 2016, and other countries have also tackled this problem, such as Germany, Greece, Albania or France.
Bills to ban these methods are being considered in several countries.
While Mijatovic recognizes these efforts, the Commissioner urges member states to adopt a “human rights-based approach to eliminating these practices”. Specifically, she calls for the implementation of “precise and enforceable prohibitions” to send a “strong signal to society” and allow the perpetrators of these acts to be brought to justice.
Headquartered in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe was created in 1949 and now has 46 members, including the 27 Member States of the European Union.