Conversion Therapy Is Ineffective and Lack Medical and Scientific Basis

Scholars, researchers, and scientists began to explore conversion therapy in-depth. They established that conversion therapy is ineffective in altering an individual’s sexual orientation and can harm the person (Drescher et al., 2019; Graham, 2018). Because of the emerging evidence of adverse effects of conversion therapy, prominent organizations, including American Psychological Association, have created policy statements opposing conversion therapy. The rejection of the therapy span from the increased presence of LGBTQ+ in society today and the widespread efforts by the media to lead to a change in public discourse concerning forced conversion therapy to minors against their wishes. In 2012, California began a conversation aimed at banning conversion therapy for children, a move that was followed closely by six cities and five states in the U.S., according to a report by the (National Center for Lesbian Rights 2019). Other states have adopted various policies to ban conversion therapy practice for minors, and many states are likely to follow the movement in the coming years.


In most cases, the motive to undertake conversion therapy is often due to pressure and not the person’s willingness. Research shows that most people participated in conversion therapy because of religious experience and expected negative reactions from family and community. Internalized negative responses from the family members and the society concerning LGBTQ+ people reinforce the impression that queer persons must have their orientation to heterosexual. Most conversion therapies tend to fail because the idea is not born out of one’s willingness and desire (Drescher et al., 2019). Besides, non-heterosexual conformity is not a disease to be treated. It is just a normal condition like heterosexuality. The primary assumption among the promotors of conversion therapy is that homosexuality is a mental disorder, a belief which researchers have refuted.

 In a study conducted in 2002 titled “Changing Sexual Orientation: A Consumer’s Report,” comprising a peer review study of 202 respondents, the researchers noted that 88% of the study participants failed to attain a sustainable change in sexual behavior. Only 3% reported a change in sexual orientation, with the rest of the participants reporting losing all the sexual desires and opting to remain celibates instead. Many participants felt harmed and ashamed for undergoing the procedure for long without success and became depressed. Some attempted suicide, socially isolated themselves, and developed poor self-esteem (Shidlo & Schroeder, 2002). Such reports are clear indications that conversion therapy is ineffective and harmful. The practice also lacks medical and scientific premises. 

Lack of Medical and Scientific Premise

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There is also no credible research evidence supporting the effectiveness of conversion therapy to date. The only study to date that claimed to show the success of conversion therapy was that of Robert Spitzer in 2001. In the survey, Spitzer pointed that about 66% and 44% of the men and women respectively attained what he termed as good heterosexual functioning, including loving opposite-sex partner, emotional satisfaction with the partner, and having sex with opposite gender Rimes, Ion, Wingrove & Carter, 2019). However, the study has since been discredited because the methods adopted to collect patient data were faulty, and the results could withstand scrutiny as a result. Spitzer’s study was faulted on numerous methodological and ethical grounds. Even Spitzer has since apologized for publishing a misleading study and has expressed a pang of guilt that his research could have adversely impacted the LGBTQ community. Spitzer recognized that 93% of the study sample comprised individuals who primarily sought treatment due to religious beliefs, and about 78% served in different facets of the church and publicly promoted altering homosexual orientation (Rimes, Ion, Wingrove & Carter, 2019). Hence, they were strongly inspired to over-report conversion therapy’s success.


            Conversion therapy, a pseudoscientific approach to altering a person’s sexual identity or orientation, has raised concerns, with many critics terming the practice torturous, unsafe, ineffective, and presents several ethical issues, including patient discrimination and violation of human rights. There is no reliable evidence indicating that one can change their sexual orientation, and health institutions and professionals argue that conversion therapy practices are potentially harmful and ineffective. Many states and countries worldwide are moving to ban conversion therapy now that the LGBTQ community is considered just like any other normal people in society.