Mexico City has approved to criminalize the barbaric practice of Conversion Therapy, a detrimental practice done with an intention to change one’s sexual or gender identity. The local congress voted to reform the Penal Code to punish those practicing conversion therapy.
A majority of 49 votes were cast in a virtual session to outlaw and penalize the practitioners of conversion therapy. The reformation specifies that “the criminalization of contracts, treatments, therapies or services, tasks, or activities that pretend to correct the sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression that undermines free self-determination.”
Conversion therapy is referred to as a set of practices that aim to “nullify, hinder, modify or undermine” someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, particularly of those who identify themselves as gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBTQ+ community). It includes an array of procedures that involves psychological counseling such as ‘praying the gay away’ – religious involvement, or aversion therapy such as electroshock treatment, physical abuse, or using LGBTQ slurs.
The reformation will punish practitioners (members of churches, medical specialists, and psychologists) with imprisonment for between two to five years. They will be additionally sentenced for 50 to 100 community work hours. The period will be increased if a minor is forced to undergo the so-called Efforts to Correct Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (Ecosig).
“When a practice like conversion therapy is banned, young LGBT+ people will benefit from wider acceptance. You’re going to suffer less violence, or if you are going to suffer violence, you will have the accompaniment of the authorities,” said a local deputy who initiated the proposal.
The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, among others, has denounced the promotion of conversion therapy (mainly by political or religious organizations), and states that “heterosexuality and homosexuality are normal expressions of human sexuality”. They emphasized that such unethical practices could potentially harm young people by those who view sexual orientation and gender identity as a mental illness or a disorder.
With a population of 8.9 million people, Mexico City becomes the first jurisdiction in the country of Mexico to criminalize conversion therapy. The city also allows same-sex marriage since 2009.
While Mexico’s federal legislatures plan on a nationwide ban from ‘curing’ LGBTQ people, countries such as Germany, Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, and Taiwan have already taken stride at it.
Experts from the UN called for a global ban of conversion attempts in June during the international Pride Month. “The degrading nature of many conversion therapy practices contributes to an overall dehumanizing environment towards persons with diverse SOGI (sexual orientation or gender identity)”, said the independent UN expert.
An openly gay prince in India, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil revealed that he was subjected to electroshock treatment post coming out to his family. He fell victim to medical and religious treatment to operate/cure him. “The first thing they tried to do was convert me. They wouldn’t accept me as a gay child,” he said.
Similarly, the recent suicide of a student from India who was coerced to undergo brutal, dehumanizing methods of conversion therapy by her family sparked a nationwide call-out by the LGBTQ community members and allies to ban Conversion Therapy in India.
Feature Image Via Canva