Humanists UK at UN calls for renewed efforts to ban conversion therapy

24 June, 2019

Humanists UK has called upon member states at the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to renew efforts to bring in legislative measures to end the practice of so-called ‘conversion therapies,’ which aim to forcibly change a person’s sexuality, whether it occurs in medical, familial, or religious settings.

Humanists UK, which campaigns for ‘conversion therapy’ to be banned, spoke about the harms of conversion therapy and the need for it to be banned in the UK and abroad.

In its intervention, Humanists UK representative Farah Mohammed stated that ‘conversion therapies are cruel and inhumane. They more often than not lead to psychological, physical, emotional, and spiritual damage in both the short and long term. However… only a few States Members of the United Nations actually ban conversion therapies. Such practices are often carried out in secret within closed religious settings, where the scale, type, and harms caused remain undetected and immeasurable by policy-makers.’

She questioned the UN’s Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity on how more member states can be supported to bring in effective bans, and asked what efforts are being made internationally to ensure that data on conversion therapies is collected and made available to legislators.

‘Conversion therapy’ involves very coercive techniques which have the aim of suppressing a person’s sexuality. It can manifest in a number of ways, including “gay cure treatments” to convince someone they’re not gay, by forcing a person to get married, or through other awful and abusive methods, such as rape.

The UK Government delegation also addressed the issue of conversion therapies and highlighted the UK’s intent to end all practice. Humanists UK recently met with UK’s Government Equalities Office to provide evidence in its ongoing investigation into how to bring an effective ban into law.


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078.

Read Humanists UK’s intervention:

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.