- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2014

A group that opposes gay conversion therapy is trying to enlist the United Nations’ help in outlawing the practice by equating it with torture.

Advocates with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is expected to present their issue to the U.N. Committee Against Torture around Nov. 10. The panel started its four-week-long discussion in Geneva on Monday.

“The time is long overdue for the United States to address the severe harms inflicted on young LGBT people and their families by purveyors of these dangerous and discredited practices,” said NCLR attorney Samantha Ames, who heads the group’s #BornPerfect campaign, which opposes “sexual-orientation change efforts.”

Ms. Ames and Samuel Brinton, who says he “survived” a severe version of conversion therapy as a youth, are joining the delegation of the U.S. Human Rights Network to Geneva.

LGBT refers to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The U.N. Committee Against Torture hasn’t included conversion therapy on its previous lists defining torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; however, the NCLR has filed a “shadow” report to the committee on the subject.

The shadow report focuses on the U.S. — and urges every state to “adopt legislation or regulations” prohibiting state-licensed professionals from “attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

It also has international importance, said Ms. Ames.

“Persuading the Committee Against Torture to take up the issue of conversion therapy on the international stage has the potential to save the lives of countless LGBT youth in the United States and around the world,” she said.

Moreover, she said, many individuals and groups who support conversion therapy “have supported laws in the other countries criminalizing LGBT people, such as the ‘kill the gays’ bill in Uganda.”

Conversion therapy is “creating a crisis the United Nations can and should address this November,” said Ms. Ames.

If the NCLR and its allies are successful in having the U.N. panel declare that anti-gay therapy is torture, it could have implications for the U.S. and other countries: As signatories of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment treaty, it is possible such nations could be obliged as a matter of international law not to allow the practice of sexual orientation change efforts, or prosecute individuals that perform it.

Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family & Human Rights Institute, which is active on family policy issues at the United Nations, said the conversion-therapy-is-torture message is “absurd,” but he would not be surprised if the U.N. Committee Against Torture was sympathetic to it.

The psychiatric profession generally believes that people with an “unwanted” condition — which can include unwanted homosexual attractions — deserve a therapeutic response, said Mr. Ruse. Thus “psychiatrists should treat patients who come to them asking for relief for things that bother them. It is absurd to consider that torture,” he said.

However, the U.N. bureaucracy “has been fully taken over by the ideologues of sexual anarchy,” said Mr. Ruse. “I fully expect the torture committee will say any sort of therapy for unwanted sexual desire is a form of torture.”

Mr. Brinton, who is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has related his testimony in a video that can be seen on YouTube, said that working to “end the torture of conversion therapy” at the U.N. would be a highlight of his life.

“A few years ago, no one seemed to care about the horrific experiences of survivors like myself,” said Mr. Brinton, who says he was forced to endure electric shocks, needles in his fingers and having hot and cold items placed in his hands while shown gay pornography to cause him to associate same-sex attraction with painful or negative feelings.

This kind of “torture” is currently legal in 48 states when it should be “relegated to the dust bin of history,” said Mr. Brinton, who wears a distinctive red mini-mohawk hairstyle.

Referring to his upcoming trip with Ms. Ames to the Geneva meeting, Mr. Brinton added, “This Kansas boy is about to speak to the most powerful members in the world in a quest to end conversion therapy. You can’t change what we never chose.”

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide