This November (2013) a new group within the evangelical church will hold seminars aimed to change people’s sexual orientation and gender identity. It is one of a growing number of illegal, FALGBT condemned seminars, like last August’s “Emotional, Relational and Sexual Restoration,” held in the city of Paraná, Entre Ríos.
The FALGBT denounces the organization of all new seminars aimed at “curing homosexuality and transgenderism” of a similar nature to that held in August in Paraná.
This time, the event is held by the group “Placeres Perfectos” (Perfect Pleasures), associated with the Evangelical Church, which will hold several seminars throughout November in the Argentine provinces of Corrientes, Chubut, Chaco and Río Negro.
This group states, based on religious beliefs, that people’s sexual orientation and gender identity can be modified. This statement, despite the careful choice of words, is similar to the idea that homosexuality is pathological in nature and , therefore, can be “cured”. The real purpose of the seminars is more evident when considering that the“restorers” are health professionals.
It is important to remember that the WHO removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases in 1990, and that, according to social consensus, transgenderism will be removed from such list sometime in the years to come. Argentina is a pioneer in this field since the Mental Health Act prohibits any diagnosis based on the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and that the Gender Identity Act guarantees that transgender people’s identity need not be recognized by a medical diagnosis.
It is especially alarming that while such groups have appeared only recently in Argentina, they have already become popular enough elsewhere in the world to charge a fee for entrance to their seminars.
These practices are illegal in Argentina since they are prohibited by the Mental Health Act. In addition, they are based on unsound medical investigations which claim that a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity can be modified.
Ironically, even the professionals involved in those studies have had second thoughts about the results on several occasions, having affirmed never to have “cured” anybody.
Moreover, it is alarming that these groups treat homosexuality and transgenderism as similar to (social vices) such as child abuse or sexual violence.
As Esteban Paulón, President of FALGBT, points out, “the possible consequences of these illegal medical and psychological practices are terrible since they are not only a scam – sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be modified – but also they can lead people to lose their self-esteem, hate themselves and repress feelings, sexual experiences and identities. Such consequences can be quite harmful to people and their mental health, and in some cases, they may lead to suicidal attempts. What is more, the existence of such ideas only strengthens the social stigma that has caused so much damage to LGBT people”.
The Head of the International Relations Department of FALGBT, Alejandro Nasif Salum, added: “as members of FALGBT we hope that these denunciations help to spread awareness of the consequences of discrimination to avoid more people destroying their lives by taking part in such events. We invite people to contact FALGBT members to obtain more information about how to get psychological, religious and spiritual support that encourages acceptance and respect for diversity.
To conclude, Paulón encouraged authorities to start analyzing new possible measures to terminate such practices similar to those taken in the State of California to protect children and teenagers.