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Facebook and Twitter join Instagram in finally banning content promoting vile, traumatising conversion therapy

Nick Duffy July 13, 2020
Facebook has outlawed promotion of conversion therapy

Facebook has outlawed promotion of conversion therapy (Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Twitter, Facebook have joined Instagram in vowing to outlaw content promoting conversion therapy after pressure on the world’s biggest social media platforms crack down on the harmful practice.

Facebook confirmed on Friday that it will pull down content deemed to be promoting the harmful practice from its platforms, under expanding its existing policies on hate speech.

Social media giants pushed into action against so-called gay cure therapy.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said last week that it would pull down content from the UK-based Core Issues Trust, a group that promotes debunked theories that gay people can be cured. Conversion therapy is currently legal in the UK as it is in many countries across the world – though some, including Germany and Canada, have taken steps to ban it.

In a statement to CNN, Instagram’s Tara Hopkins said:”We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services.

“We have removed violating content from Core Issues Trust. We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach.”

Posts from Core Issues Trust claiming that people can be “freed from homosexuality” remain online on Instagram, however.

Matching the move, a Twitter spokesperson told the outlet that the social network is “working to make the training decks more clear so that team members have a wide variety of examples to refer to and our enforcement of this is consistent and scaleable globally”.

Facebook has a troubled history on the issue.

Facebook has previously been caught taking money from conversion therapy promoters

Facebook has previously been caught taking money from conversion therapy promoters. In 2017, PinkNews revealed that an evangelical gay ‘cure’ group, Anchored North, had used Facebook to target LGBT+ people with adverts warning they face “eternity in hell”. At the time Facebook assured PinkNews that the ad in question “violates our advertising policies, and has been removed”.

A subsequent “investigation” by a national newspaper more than a year later flagged that near-identical ads from the same group were still appearing on Facebook.

The clip, which remains on the group’s page as a non-promoted video despite Facebook’s promise to tackle the practice, has now accrued 2.8 million views.

Calls for conversion therapy to be banned globally.

Last week, the UN’s independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity called for a global ban on efforts to ‘cure’ LGBT+ people, arguing that they inflict “severe pain and suffering” on those that experience them.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz said: “These interventions exclusively target LGBT+ persons with the specific aim of interfering in their personal integrity and autonomy because their sexual orientation or gender identity do not fall under what is perceived by certain persons as a desirable norm.

“They are inherently degrading and discriminatory and rooted in the belief that LGBT+ persons are somehow inferior, and that they must at any cost modify their orientation or identity to remedy that supposed inferiority.”

Also last week, figures including Alan Cumming, Olly Alexander, Charli XCX and Munroe Bergdorf signed a letter calling on UK equalities minister Liz Truss to deliver on a 2018 government pledge to ban conversion therapy.

The letter says: “Any form of counselling or persuading someone to change their sexual orientation or behaviour so as to conform with a heteronormative lifestyle, or their gender identity should be illegal, no matter the reason, religious or otherwise – whatever the person’s age.

“Let’s end it now. Let’s finish what was pledged two years ago and ban conversion therapy for all lesbian, gay, bi, trans and gender diverse people, of all ages – until you do, torture will continue to take place on British soil.”

More: conversion therapy, Facebook, gay cure therapy, Instagram, Twitter

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