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What are the conversion therapies that Mexico seeks to ban and punish with jail?

The Senate of Mexico approved this Tuesday a modification to the Federal Penal Code and the General Health Law with which it will prohibit and sanction the so-called sexual conversion therapies in the country.

The reform proposes to suspend for between 1 and 3 years the professionals who apply them and will punish with between 2 to 6 years in prison whoever performs, imparts, applies, forces or finances any type of treatment, therapy, service or practice that hinders, restricts, prevents, undermines, annuls or suppresses the sexual orientation, gender identity or expression of a person, detailed the Senate through a statement.

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While if these controversial therapies are applied to minors, older adults or people who have some type of disability, the penalty will be doubled.

After its approval in the Senate, the draft decree must go through the Chamber of Deputies to enter into force, detailed the EFE agency.

But what are sexual conversion therapies?

In 2020, the State of Mexico had taken a first step by approving in the state Congress a reform that sanctions conversion therapies with between 3 to 5 years in prison. (THE UNIVERSAL / GDA /)

MORE TORTURE THAN THERAPY

Between the nineteenth century and the mid-twentieth century, different processes were established to reverse homosexuality, considered as a disease by the scientific community of the time.

Among them were listed surgical treatments, such as lobotomy or excision; hormonal, with stimulants and depressants; and many others, among which practices such as electroshock therapy, hypnosis or the so-called aversion therapy, in which the patient is conditioned by relating a stimulus to some form of pain or unpleasant sensation, stood out.

The negative effects on the health of patients caused most of these therapies to be banned over time. However, some practices managed to prevail.

Between 1939 and 1969, conversion therapy enjoyed particular popularity among the psychiatric community, supported even by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which from 1952 to 1973 considered homosexuality a mental disorder.

From 1952 to 1973, the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality a mental disorder.

From 1952 to 1973, the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality a mental disorder. (ALFREDO STAR / AFP /)

A report presented in 2020 before the UN Human Rights Council indicates that conversion therapies “aim to transform a non-heterosexual person into a straight person, and a trans or gender diverse person into a cisgender person (a person whose gender identity corresponds to their recorded sex)”.

With the modification in the classification of homosexuality by the APA, different techniques applied during conversion therapies were prohibited. Some examples are the electroshock practices that were applied to patients.

But, in its place, other procedures were maintained, such as deprivation of liberty, torture, application of medication or sessions in which the patient listened to the rejection of their relatives. In other cases, registered mainly within groups linked to religious organizations, patients are harassed with messages that relate homosexuality to sin, degeneration or vice.

In Mexico, conversion therapies are also called Efforts to Correct Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity (ECOSIG). The most active groups that offer this type of service are Courage Latino, Venser or Valora, according to an Infobae article.

They treated you like a criminal. As soon as you entered, they checked your suitcase, they threw all your things on the floor, you had to put them together. They came into your room at midnight to check what you were doing. They would get you up at a certain time in the morning so that you could go do some activity that they decided you had to do. They limited your food and your drink… And I thought, ‘well, what did I do? why are you treating me like this?”, Luis, a 30-year-old who had gone through an ECOSIG retreat in Guadalajara before coming of age, told the Argentine portal.

The young man’s testimony details that said retreat lasted three days during which they had to follow the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, a recurring practice in groups that offer ECOSIG and that still consider homosexuality as a disease or addiction that must be cured.

OVERALL SITUATION

Data collected until February of this year by the UN Human Rights Council warn that conversion therapies are currently applied in at least 68 countries, with Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa being the continents where it occurs “quite a lot”. frequently” or “very often”.

The report warns, however, that the practice is registered in different measures in all the continents and regions of the planet.

In the United States, for example, some 700,000 people have undergone these therapies at some point in their lives, according to the UN.

Conversion therapies cause deep physical and psychological trauma to the people who suffer them, warn United Nations experts, who put these therapies on the same level as torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Víctor Madrigal-Borloz, an independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, points out in the UN report that this type of therapy goes hand in hand with the intention of criminalizing populations not heterosexual.

Currently, 69 states around the world have laws criminalizing same-sex relationships between consenting adults. “This criminalization has quantifiable consequences in terms of public health and access to education”, points out Madrigal-Borloz, who refers that some 200 million people (a third of the world population) currently live in discriminatory contexts due to their sexual identity.

Despite the different reports on the effects that this type of therapy can have, only a handful of nations have decided to penalize or ban them within their territory. The UN highlights the cases of Ecuador and Malta, where conversion therapies are considered crimes; and mentions measures adopted by Spain, the United States, Canada, France, Germany or Albania, where these therapies have been prohibited.

Source: Elcomercio

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