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Instagram take a stand against conversion therapy

Instagram‘s latest policy update regarding conversion therapy has served a huge win for the LGBTQ+ community. The social network has moved towards protecting individuals with a ban on all content related to conversion therapy from their platform.

“We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services,”

Tara Hopkins, Instagram’s public policy director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Whilst the updated policy has been in place since Friday the 10th of July, Instagram has acknowledged that it may take some time for existing content to be removed.

By removing all content regarding conversion therapy this new policy will help protect LGBTQ+ people. Seeing content suggested such as a ‘cure for homosexuality’ can be incredibly disheartening for LGBTQ+ individuals. Adverts had also previously been targeted at cisgendered heterosexuals in an attempt to get them to pressurise LGBTQ+ people they know into conversion therapy.

Conversion Therapy

Conversion therapy is an intervention based therapy with the aim to ‘cure’ LGBTQ+ people of their sexual or gender identities. These often involve unethical treatments that have been likened to torture. Examples of these practices include shock therapy and the use of drugs in an attempt to condition the individual. The outdated treatment of sexual orientation and gender identity as a mental illness hinders the fight for equality.

LGBTQ+ individuals whom have been subjected to conversion therapy are more likely to from depression and feel suicidal. A 2019 survey conducted by the Trevor Project found that 42% of young individuals that had endured conversion therapy had attempted suicide within the last year. This is sadly over twice as many as their other LGBTQ+ counterparts.

“Conversion Therapy is Torture”

The International’s Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims have themselves classified conversion therapy as a form of torture. The organisation offer support for victims and call for a global ban on conversion therapy. This is a view that has been shared by the United Nations.

Variation in sexual orientation and gender identity is not a disease or disorder. Health professionals, therefore, have no role in diagnosing it or treating it. The provision of any intervention purporting to treat something that is not a disease or disorder is wholly unethical.

The Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG), Statement on Conversion Therapy

Conversion therapy is widely regarded as ineffective and harmful for mental health. Despite this, conversion therapy in the UK is still legal.

UK Government Apology

The UK Government faced a strong backlash on Twitter this week in response to a tweet asking for opinions on conversion therapy.

How does #conversiontherapy affect the #LGBTQ community? Should it be made illegal? What would that mean to you? @HoCpetitions is investigating a petition calling for the practice to be made illegal

@HouseofCommons on twitter (now deleted)

Many twitter users expressed disgust that the government had taken such an ignorant approach given the harm that conversion therapy can cause. As a result of the backlash the official House of Commons Twitter account had to issue a statement.

The UK Government’s statement on the now deleted tweet.

This tweet was again met with disapproval as twitter users pointed out the severity of the situation and the lack of empathy from the government.

One of the responses to the government statement by @LeeDawsonPT on twitter.

Getting Help

If you have been affected by conversion therapy its important to know there is support available for you. If you do not find it comfortable to talk about it on the phone, there is an option to get help via email.

Stonewall

For information and support you can call Stonewall on 0800 0502020 (Lines are open 9:30 – 4:30 Monday to Friday.) You can also email at info@stonewall.org.uk

LGBT Foundation

The LGBT Foundation also offer advice and support via phone on 0345 3 30 30 30. Alternatively you can email the LGBT Foundation at info@lgbt.foundation


Header image by Lalo Hernandez on Unsplash

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