Health

28 medical organizations issue unprecedented statement against conversion therapy

Despite being a long-debunked pseudoscientific practice, conversion therapy is outlawed in less than half the states in the US. As a new lawsuit seeks to have even those bans overturned, 28 major medical organizations have banded together to collectively denounce the so-called therapy.

In a press release on October 11, the United States Joint Statement (USJS) put out a call to end conversion therapy, the first of its kind. “Twenty-eight major U.S. medical and psychological professional associations, representing more than 1.3 million healthcare providers, have joined together to end so-called ‘conversion therapy’ because such efforts are unscientific, ineffective, and put individuals at significant risk of harm,” the statement read.

“Signatories to the [USJS] aimed at ending ‘conversion therapy’ include the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and American Academy of Pediatrics. This is the first time that so many U.S. medical and mental health associations have agreed to jointly protect the health of LGBTQ+ Americans.”

According to the group, “22 states, the District of Columbia, and over 115 municipalities have banned [conversion therapy], and five more states and the territory of Puerto Rico have restricted the use of conversion efforts.” Bans on conversion therapy typically apply only to licensed healthcare practitioners—a point of contention for many advocates as the laws fall short of a full ban.

But in recent months, these laws have faced court challenges through a lawsuit backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom. The ADF—whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group—are petitioning to get the case in front of the Supreme Court, hoping the conservative majority will overturn conversion therapy bans across the nation.

In the face of these legal challenges, these major medical organizations have come together to say, unequivocally, that conversion therapy is not science. It is also not about religious freedom or expressing unpopular opinions.

“This statement conclusively shows that the U.S. medical and psychological community firmly rejects ‘conversion therapy’ as somehow protected ‘speech-based therapy,’” wrote USJS co-founder Guy Albert. “This fake therapy is not the expression of a viewpoint—it’s dangerous and harmful.”

The unprecedented joint statement was eight years in the making, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. In a conversation with the Bay Area Reporter, Albert explained how much work went into drafting the statement over the years.

“In addition to the process of the USJS going through internal review and approval in each association, the initial drafting of the USJS took years,” Albert said. “Many experts were involved in drafting it, reviewing it, updating it, and finalizing it. That was the deliberative and time-consuming nature of the process of drafting a new initiative and reaching consensus among so many parties.”

Co-founder Jim Walker added that in addition to an educational resource, the joint statement “can also be used legislatively and legally as evidence that the major mental health and medical provider associations stand against conversion efforts and for affirming care.”

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