Sexual Orientation Change Efforts - Debate - Forced SOCE

Forced SOCE

Until the 1970s, homosexuality was considered a mental illness and homosexuals were forced by the government to undergo treatment. Famous cases include Alan Turing. This practice is outlawed in most of the world, but human right groups have complained that in some parts of the world, treatment is still being forced upon unwilling patients.

In one of the few published U.S. cases dealing with conversion therapy, the Ninth Circuit addressed the topic in the context of an asylum application. A Russian citizen "had been apprehended by the Russian militia, registered at a clinic as a 'suspected lesbian,' and forced to undergo treatment for lesbianism, such as 'sedative drugs' and hypnosis." The Ninth Circuit held that the conversion treatments to which Pitcherskaia had been subjected constituted mental and physical torture. The court rejected the argument that the treatments to which Pitcherskaia had been subjected did not constitute persecution because they had been intended to help her, not harm her, stating that "human rights laws cannot be sidestepped by simply couching actions that torture mentally or physically in benevolent terms such as 'curing' or 'treating' the victims."

There have been few, if any, medical malpractice lawsuits filed on the basis of conversion therapy. Laura A. Gans suggested in an article published in The Boston University Public Interest Law Journal that this is due to an "historic reluctance of consumers of mental health services to sue their care givers" and "the difficulty associated with establishing the elements of... causation and harm... given the intangible nature of psychological matters." Gans also suggested that a tort cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress might be sustainable against therapists who use conversion therapy on patients who specifically say that his or her anxiety does not arise from his or her sexuality.

Another concern is unwilling patients, particularly children, being forced into SOCE. Children experience significant pressure to conform with sexual norms, particularly from their peers, and often lack adequate legal protection from coercive treatment.

In 2005, Love In Action, an ex-gay ministry based in Memphis, was investigated by the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities for providing counseling and mental health care without a license, and for treating adolescents without their consent. There have been reports that teenagers have been forcibly treated with conversion therapy on other occasions. Several legal researchers argue that parents who force their children into aggressive conversion therapy programs are committing child abuse under various state statutes.

Some advocates of SOCE (including NARTH) have spoken in favor of a patient's right to reject SOCE and embrace a lesbian, gay or bisexual identity. Richard A. Cohen, an advocate of conversion therapy, has said, "If someone wants to live a gay life, that needs to be respected. If someone wants to change and come out straight, that too needs to be respected. Let us practice true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all."

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Famous quotes containing the word forced:

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