Tag: conversion

Non-binary teenager burned and abused in Muslim conversion therapy

muslim conversion therapy singapore

The teenager was forced to endure repeated exorcisms by religious leaders. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty)

A non-binary, pansexual teenager has described how they were burned, psychologically abused and told being gay was worse that rape during conversion therapy enforced by their Muslim parents.

Iani’s story is one in a series on conversion therapy in Singapore being released by queer brand Heckin’ Unicorn.

While religious conversion therapy is often thought of and reported on as a Christian practice, the Singapore teenager’s experience shines a light on the similar experiences of queer Muslims.

Throughout their childhood Iani had a close relationship with their parents, but that all changed when they were outed as queer.

Iani’s extended family began organising for them to go through conversion therapy, and one day their uncle, an Ustaz [male Islamic religious teacher], came to their house.

Their uncle began calling out and trying to commune with an “evil spirit”, but it soon became clear that the “spirit” he was speaking to was Iani. After asked them a series of questions he declared that they were “possessed”.

The evil spirit, or jinn, needed to be expelled from their body in order for Iani to become “normal”, he said.

While the bizarre session was difficult and upsetting, Iani was not prepared for what would come. Their uncle returned a week later to perform an exorcism, or ruqyah.

He forced Iani to recite verses from the Qur’an, while whipping them with a cane. Their body was draped with a blanket before the whipping, to ensure there would be no visible marks. Then, making Iani get on the ground, the uncle held a lighter under their feet, burning the teenager to “cast the jinn away” while they screamed in pain.

Iani’s parents continued to arrange exorcisms, and their mental health deteriorated. Reaching the point of a breakdown, their parents invited an Ustaz to restrain and “treat” them with another exorcism, instead of seeking professional help.

One day, their father forced them to watch a documentary on the story of Lut, often quoted by Muslims to insist that being LGBT+ is wrong. The teenager, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, told their father that the story also warned against rape.

Their father said: “Rape is everywhere, but being gay isn’t. That’s why being gay will always be the biggest sin.”

Eventually, Iani fell into a mental health crisis and was hospitalised at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for emergency treatment of a psychotic breakdown.

Now older, Iani is unsurprisingly still non-binary and still pansexual, yet they are forced to live with the mental health repercussions of the abuse they suffered every day.

While conversion therapy in Islam is not so well-known, its core ideas are almost identical to Christian conversion therapy; that being LGBT+ is unnatural and wrong, and that sexual orientation and gender identity can be changed through religious practices.

Heckin’ Unicorn is sharing stories of conversion therapy in Singapore because there, like in the UK, the horrific practice is still perfectly legal.

The company is calling for a full ban on the practice and advertising of conversion therapy in Singapore.

 

 

Polish bishop claims conversion therapy fears are ‘a misconception’

Polish bishop claims conversion therapy fears are 'a misconception'

A Polish bishop dismissed fears that the Catholic church wants to force LGBT+ people into conversion therapy (Artur Widak/NurPhoto/ Getty)

A Polish bishop has insisted it’s a “misconception” that the church wants to force LGBT+ people into conversion therapy, despite calling for the creation of conversion therapy clinics just days earlier.

After a three-day Polish Episcopal Conference, bishops in Poland produced a 27-page document outlining their stance on LGBT+ issues. It included the claim that it is “necessary to create [conversion therapy] clinics… to help people regain their sexual health and natural sexual orientation”.

“These clinics also make sense when complete sexual transformation is too difficult,” it continued, “as they can still help psychosexuals to deal with significant challenges.”

The document was the latest in a string of attacks against the LGBT+ community by the Polish Catholic church, and prompted considerable backlash.

But in a September 2 statement, Bishop Józef Wróbel, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Lublin and chairman of the bioethics committee of the Bishops’ Conference of Poland, said that it was a “misconception” to suggest that the bishops wanted to coerce people into “therapy”.

According to the Catholic Herald, he said the recommendation was aimed only at those “who seek such help and ask for it, because they experience suffering because of their inclinations”.

So-called ‘conversion therapy’ refers to the dangerous and discredited practise of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organisation for decades, is often compared to torture and has been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide, and drug addiction.

The fact that conversion therapy is “clearly in contradiction” to scientific evidence was acknowledged in the Episcopal conference, yet Bishop Wróbel maintained that it is effective.

He said: “In rare cases, transformation is possible under two conditions, namely that the LGBT person must really desire such a change (usually making an outright heroic effort in this direction) and there is as yet no homosexual sexual experience.

“Such help is not possible if, at the starting point, a person adopts the attitude that this inclination is natural, willed by the Creator, and should be accepted.”

The United Nations has compared conversion therapy to torture and has long called for a global ban. But the bishop opposed this, insisted that a ban on such therapies does not “make sense”.

He said: “In practice, such a position does not make sense, because it means that the UN demands to control who goes to a psychologist and for what purpose, or who goes to the Church, who confesses and what they confess.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evangelical rages over Facebook conversion therapy advertisement ban

facebook conversion therapy ads

Christopher Doyle, a “former homosexual”, co-founded the “ex-gay” group Voice of the Voiceless. (Voice of the Silenced/ YouTube)

Evangelical anti-LGBT+ Christians are fuming after Facebook confirmed that it would ban advertising for conversion therapy on the social media platform.

Facebook confirmed on Friday, July 10, that as part of a push to expand its hate speech policies, it will take down content deemed to be promoting the traumatic practice.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, also said last week that it would pull down content from the UK-based Core Issues Trust, a group that promotes debunked theories that gay people can be cured.

In a statement to CNN, Instagram’s Tara Hopkins said: “We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services.”

But anti-LGBT+ evangelicals are convinced that the ban on conversion therapy advertising is an “assault on free speech and religious liberty”.

Christopher Doyle is the executive director of the Institute for Healthy Families, which describes itself as a “non-profit therapeutic organization” which “specializes in sexual/ gender identity affirming therapy, and works with clients and families all over the world who experience sexual and/or gender identity conflicts”.

Doyle, a “former homosexual”, also co-founded the “ex-gay” group Voice of the Voiceless which says its mission it “to defend the rights of former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, and their families”.

He said that he founded the group “simply because of the invasion of homosexual activism within the secular American society”.

He strongly objects to Facebook and Instagram’s ban on conversion therapy advertising, and told the Christian Post: “While the company claims they are taking this action to prevent discrimination towards the LGBT community, the real people they are hurting are those who experience unwanted sexual and gender identity conflicts and are seeking options for healing and ethical, licensed therapy.

“Everyone should have the right to seek help for unwanted attractions or sexual/gender conflicts without interference, and public companies should not be able to discriminate the views of some they may disagree with for political purposes.”

Conversion therapy is often compared to torture and has been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide, and drug addiction.

A UK survey conducted last year found that one in five people who had been through conversion therapy later attempted suicide.