At least 15 traumatising ‘gay conversion therapy’ services are still being peddled in the Netherlands, government finds
There are at least 15 individuals and organisations in the Netherlands who are still performing harmful conversion therapy for LGBT+ youth.
Conversion therapy is a harmful practice that seeks to change a person’s sexual or gender identity. It has been condemned by various influential psychiatric bodies as a type of pseudoscience.
However, it is still relatively popular in the Netherlands, according to a new report commissioned by the country’s health ministry.
MPs in the country asked for further research into the topic due to anecdotal evidence that some young people in the country are still facing efforts to change their sexual or gender identity, Dutch News reports.
Researchers interviewed young people in faith communities about their experiences with conversion therapy for the report and found that efforts ranged from weekly sessions to single conversations with priests.
There are concerns that banning conversion therapy will do little to erase the problem in the Netherlands.
“In the interviews almost all the personal-experience experts talk of psychological disorders (depression, suicidal thoughts, eating issues), sexual problems, social disorders, and finally also about religious changes,” the report said.
One conversion therapy survivor told Dutch broadcaster NOS that a ban on the practice was unlikely to help stamp it out.
“You simply call it treatment for depression or the like,” he said.
“And you won’t get many complaints from victims because in most cases this is something they want to do. And that applied to me as well.”
The man’s claims are borne out by the research – many of the young people interviewed for the report said they had sought conversion therapy themselves.
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A second part of the report is expected to be published later this month.
Research shows that the practice has a detrimental impact on survivors.
Conversion therapy has been condemned by numerous health and psychiatric bodies across the world, including the American Psychiatric Association, American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry.
A 2018 survey of conversion therapy survivors in the UK by the Ozanne Foundation found that one in five people who had been through the practice later attempted suicide, while two in five had suicidal thoughts.
Less than a third said they went on to live a “happy and fulfilled life”.