Disrupt, Defund, and Deplatform:
Exploring Philanthropic Approaches to Ending Conversion Therapies
Thursday, April 7th
11 am EDT/ 5 pm CEST/ 4 pm BST/6 pm EAT
Global Philanthropy Project, Horizons Foundation, and Ariadne invite grantmakers to a webinar on strategies to interrupt and prevent conversion therapy efforts at regional and country levels, and in the virtual/tech space.
This webinar takes place at a very dynamic time. Continued global efforts to ban conversion therapy are making gains including bans in Brazil, Ecuador, Malta, Samoa, Fiji, Taiwan, Argentina, Uruguay, Germany, Canada, France, and New Zealand, in some territories of Spain and Australia, and in 20 States of the USA. At the same time, extremists continue to mobilize support for these practices. The webinar will share Global Project Against Hate and Extremism’s (GPAHE) and Horizons Foundation’s research on the ecosystem and players of conversion therapy online and on social media and insights from related efforts by OutRight International.
The webinar will present the latest developments on efforts to pass a ban on conversion therapy in the UK, including recent news of a change from the UK Government that threatens to exclude conversion therapy on gender identity from the protections of such a ban.
A note of content warning: In describing a homophobic and transphobic practice, information which can be painful and disturbing is included. Please use care in reading, and in discussing this topic with colleagues and community members.
Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
Alberto de Belaunde,
OutRight Action International
Francisco O. Buchting,
Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
Background: What is Conversion Therapy (CT)
“Conversion therapy” is a term describing pseudo-scientific and harmful practices used in an attempt to alter a person’s gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation. It is also known as “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts.”
According to the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, “conversion therapy is practiced in more than 69 countries in all regions, and the practice is undertaken with adults and often minors who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and gender diverse. Conversion therapy is both provided under state control (hospitals, detention facilities, schools) and in private settings such as religious institutions, youth camps and retreats.” Efforts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity can include corrective violence, medication, electroshock, aversive treatments (for example, using vomit-inducing drugs), exorcism, force-feeding and food deprivation, forced nudity, and forced isolation and confinement. That is why CT has been identified by the UN as a form of torture.
Background: CT Ban Efforts and Challenges in the UK
In recent days, significant events have emerged related to ban efforts in the UK. These events will frame part of our conversation.
In 2018, the Government of the UK announced plans to ban conversion therapy. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reaffirmed this announcement, and the Queen announced in 2021 that “measures will be brought forward… to ban conversion therapy.”
The promise of banning efforts to change individuals’ sexual orientation or gender identity has played a key role in positioning the UK as a champion for LGBTI human rights. This position has aided in garnering international support for the upcoming Safe to be Me Conference to be held in London on 29 June to 1 July 2022.
On March 31, a leaked document from the British government, followed by confirmation from senior government sources to the media, exposed a drastic change in those plans. According to the initial information, plans to ban conversion therapies could be entirely dropped. In the aftermath of this revelation (on International Transgender Day of Visibility), the government affirmed that conversion therapy focused on sexual orientation would still be banned. However, the ban will exclude conversion therapy focused on gender identity.
This removal of conversion efforts based on gender identity from the ban legislation is happening in tandem with increased targeting of gender identity among conversion therapy providers, with especially increased focus on transgender youth.
The change in government position is deeply concerning and requires an urgent mobilization of philanthropic and political resources to support the British trans movements and its allies in overturning this decision. Expected actions include coordination meetings, the development of public communication campaigns, and strategic litigation.