lgbt conversion therapy united nations

New Study Mapping Prevalence and Harm of So-Called “Conversion Therapy” on LGBT+

Around the world, members of the LGBT+ continue to be subjected to oppressive practices that seek to change their sexual orientation and identity.  A new study prepared by the LGBT+ Foundation and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health maps the global prevalence of so-called “conversion therapy” perpetuated against LGBT+ persons.


This research set out to build empirical data on the kinds of abuse and manipulation used in the so-called therapy; its prevalence around the world; and the degrees of harm it causes its victims.


Preliminary findings add to the existing data which find attempts by parents and religious leaders or therapists to change the sexual orientation of LGBT adolescents (‘conversion therapy’) contribute to multiple health and adjustment problems in young adulthood. These include higher levels of depression and suicidal behavior, as well as lower levels of self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction, and lower levels of education and income in young adulthood.


Given the alarming empirical evidence in the study “The Global State of Conversion Therapy – A Preliminary Report and Current Evidence Brief“, a short evidence brief of the findings was prepared by the LGBT+ Foundation to begin immediate interventions to end the practice.


The term “conversion therapy” is most widely used to describe practices attempting to change, suppress, or divert one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Such practices are also called: reorientation therapy, reparative therapy, sexual orientation change efforts, ex-gay/ex-trans therapy, gay cure therapy, or more recently, support for unwanted same-sex attraction or transgender identities. To discover global prevalence of both conversion therapy and various methods of practicing attempted therapy data was collected globally. The a data collection tool was developed by combining existing measurement tools with newly designed questions to gauge experiences with conversion therapy; consisting of a series of 44 questions covering a range of topics, including personal experience with conversion therapy, types of therapy experienced, long-term impacts, mental health, human rights, faith, and others. The survey was provided in several languages, including English, Arabic, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, and others. 8092 individuals from over 100 countries participated in the initial research.  Over 20% of participants or someone they knew were subjected to conversion therapy.  The majority of practitioners who led conversion therapy were mental health providers, followed by religious authorities or their associates. These findings with a large global sample reveal that the practice of conversion therapy continues to be utilized around the world despite broad consensus on its harmful effects and lack of scientific justification.  The evidence brief can be accessed here.