Report on conversion therapy

May 2020
Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
To the HRC at its 44th session, June 2020


"Conversion therapy" is an umbrella term used to describe interventions of a wide-ranging nature, all of which have in common the belief that a person's sexual orientation or gender identity can and should be changed. Such practices aim (or claim to aim) at changing people from gay, lesbian or bisexual to heterosexual and from trans or gender diverse to cisgender.

Depending on the context, the term is used for a multitude of practices and methods, some of which are clandestine and therefore poorly documented.

 Conversion therapy currently happens in a multitude of countries in all regions of the world. Perpetrators include private and public mental health-care providers, faith-based organizations, traditional healers and State agents. Promoters include family and community members, political authorities and other agents.


The word "therapy", derived from the Greek, denotes "healing". However, practices of conversion therapy are just the opposite: they inflict severe pain and suffering, resulting in long-lasting psychological and physical damage, the Independent Expert concludes in his report.

He also notes that these practices are inherently degrading and discriminatory. They are rooted in the belief that LGBT persons are somehow inferior, and that they must at any cost modify their orientation or identity to remedy that supposed inferiority. He highlights that such practices constitute an egregious violation of rights to bodily autonomy, health, and free expression of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity. When conducted forcibly, they also represent a breach to the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.

The Independent Expert calls for a global ban on conversion therapy. This process would need to include:

  • Clearly defining the prohibited practices
  • Ensuring public funds are not used to support them
  • Banning advertisements
  • Prohibiting such interventions in health-care, religious, education, community, commercial or any other setting—public or private
  • Establishing punishments for non-compliance, and investigate respective claims
  • Creating mechanisms to provide access to all forms of reparations to victims

View easy-to-read summary of the report
PDF: English | Français | Español | Portuguese

Read the press release

Watch the launch events (English | Español)


For the preparation of this report, the Independent Expert carried out an extensive literature review and outreach measures. On 21 November 2019, he issued a call for written submissions, in response to which he received 33 contributions from Member States, including national human rights institutions, and 94 from civil society organizations, academics, medical practitioners, faith-based organizations, parliamentarians and individuals. Find graphs and charts showing the breakdown of inputs received by region, followed by links to the inputs received below.

On 5 February 2020, he held a public consultation in Geneva. See the concept note (English | French | Spanish)

On 29 February 2020, he convened a meeting of experts in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Inputs received

Number (and percentage) by region

Number (and percentage) by stakeholder type

Number by stakeholder type and by region

Member States

National Human Rights Institutions, Equality Bodies and Ombudspersons

Members of parliament

Civil Society Organisations (including faith-based organisations)


Health Practitioners

Other individuals and researchers