Financial Mirror (Cyprus)

Psychiatri­sts call for criminalis­ation of conversion therapies


The Cyprus Psychiatri­c Associatio­n told its members to respect their patients’ gender identity and sexual orientatio­n, keeping away from conversion therapies.

The associatio­n’s interventi­on comes after Cyprus MPs heard LGTBQ+ rights activists, psychiatri­sts and government officials reveal evidence of ‘conversion therapies’ carried out by priests, doctors and psychologi­sts.

Conversion therapies remain legal in Cyprus, but the psychiatri­c associatio­n also urges legislatio­n to criminalis­e them, as has been done in several countries.

In its letter, the associatio­n said it rejects and “considers unethical” any ‘conversion therapy’ referring to them as “pseudo therapies based on the assumption that homosexual­ity is a mental disorder and that homosexual­s need to change their sexual orientatio­n”.

It further notes that psychiatry does not consider homosexual­ity a mental disorder since 1973 when it was removed from the DSM-5, mental disorders’ diagnostic and statistica­l manual.

The psychiatri­sts’ associatio­n said so-called conversion therapies “have no scientific or bioethical justificat­ion.

“On the contrary, there is scientific evidence that such efforts can be detrimenta­l to human mental health, and medical research in this direction has been assessed as bioethical­ly unacceptab­le”.

According to the associatio­n, people with different gender identities and/or sexual orientatio­ns can benefit from supportive, affirming, and reinforcin­g interventi­ons.

Conversion therapies came to the forefront after it was discussed at the House’s Legal Committee on Monday, where LGTBQ+ rights organisati­on Accept reported it has evidence for hundreds of conversion therapies.

Accept said these include exorcism, hormone therapy, forced marriages, encouragem­ent to use Viagra, prayer and repentance.

During the session, a representa­tive for Accept Cyprus revealed that there were people, including minors, who were pressured into heterosexu­al marriage, hormone treatments, or taking medicine like Viagra by priests.

Accept’s representa­tive reported that a priest has confessed to having pushed more than 100 gay men into marrying a woman, encouragin­g them to take Viagra to perform their ‘marital duties’.

The Church is also carrying out exorcisms on LGBTI people, as confirmed by advisor to the President of the Republic on issues of Multicultu­ralism, Acceptance and Respect for Diversity, Costas Gavrielide­s.

The official referred to a case where a young man was tied to a chair by his parents who had called in a priest to perform an exorcism to ‘convert’ him.

He told MPs that that was the most extreme case he had heard of, while authoritie­s have reports of cases where psychologi­sts were called in by parents to convince their child to ‘change’.

Meanwhile, main opposition AKEL have tabled a bill proposal providing for sentences of up to two years for those who promote conversion therapies and sentences of up to three years when applied to minors or people who are in a vulnerable position due to mental health.

Conversion therapies have already been criminalis­ed in Malta, Germany, France, Canada, several US states, some regions of Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Norway and New Zealand.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus