Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Latin American and Caribbean Mental Health Leaders Unite Against Conversion Practices

Mental health professional guilds, organizations, and associations from over seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have joined forces to issue a powerful statement condemning conversion practices aimed at altering or suppressing sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Conversion practices, deeply rooted in homophobia and transphobia, are denounced by these organizations for lacking any scientific basis and being extreme forms of discrimination. They inflict severe mental health damage on individuals within the LGBTIQ community, leading to issues such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, self-esteem challenges, and even suicidal thoughts.

The signatory organizations include prominent bodies such as the Caribbean Alliance of National Psychology Associations, Latin American Psychoanalytic Federation, Federal Council of Psychologists of Brazil, Federation of Psychologists of Venezuela, Colombian Professional Association of Psychology, Peruvian Society of Psychoanalysis, Gender and Sexualities Commission of the Professional Association of Psychologists of Chile, and the Professional Association of Psychologists of Santa Fe, Argentina - First Circumscription.

In emphasizing the importance of inclusive approaches within mental health practice, these organizations stress the need to respect the identity of LGBTIQ individuals while rejecting all forms of discrimination.

The joint statement urges mental health professionals to actively denounce and confront conversion practices within their professional spaces, as well as in the media and public forums. Furthermore, the organizations call upon governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to enact effective legislation and public policies that prevent conversion practices and ensure victims have access to the necessary professional care. The overarching goal is to prioritize the well-being and rights of LGBTIQ individuals by eradicating these harmful practices.

Outright International, an organization dedicated to human rights advocacy, has documented the global use of conversion practices and is actively collaborating with partners worldwide to eradicate them. The organization's research sheds light on the nature, extent, and impact of these harmful practices.

Maria Sjödin (pictured), Executive Director of Outright International, emphasizes the crucial need to "convert mindsets, not identities" and advocates for a world where all individuals can live authentically and free from discrimination. Mental health professionals, she states, can play a pivotal role in curbing the demand for conversion practices and ensuring they have no part in it.