Converting Mindsets, Not Our Identities

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Summary of the Research Findings on the Nature, Extent, and Impact of Conversion Practices In Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa

In 2019, OutRight Action International, in partnership with three partner organizations – The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS) in Nigeria, galck+ in Kenya, and Access Chapter 2 (AC2) in South Africa – commenced a project to document and end conversion practices, also known as conversion “therapy,” that impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.

Conversion practices, defined as efforts that aim to suppress or change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, are widespread and have a devastating impact on LGBTQ lives. OutRight, in its report “Harmful Treatment: The Global Reach of So-Called Conversion Therapy,” found that these harmful practices take place everywhere and range in their levels of physical and psychological abuse. Although conversion practices have been well-documented over the last five decades in North America and Australia, no in-depth study has been undertaken to characterize the nature and extent of these damaging, degrading practices in any African country. The three research reports that emerge as part of this project fill the knowledge gap by providing substantial data on conversion practices in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, and contribute much-needed evidence of harm to inform advocacy interventions to curtail these practices.

The objectives of this project are to:

  • Build a body of knowledge and evidence on conversion practices in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa to ensure localized data on the manifestation of conversion practices in these countries.
  • Raise awareness at national, regional, and international levels of the nature and negative impact of conversion practices.
  • Build a broad base of support among relevant key actors who condemn these harmful practices and are willing to work toward establishing appropriate protections against conversion practices.

In the conceptualization and implementation of the project, the following were taken into consideration:

  • Terminology: In referring to these practices, it is necessary to use terms widely understood by the relevant local community.
  • Context: Factors such as the criminalization of consensual same-sex relations are a key determinant in the nature and level of engagement of various actors challenging conversion practices.
  • Survivors: Survivors should play a critical role in humanizing the discourse and clarifying the manifestations of the practices, the long-term psychological impacts on survivors, and best practices for trauma-informed recovery.
  • Safety and security: It is essential to ensure safety and mental well-being of the survivors and those involved in implementing the project, as well as ensure the security of data of respondents and researchers and all their communications.

Download the summary

Read the reports by each organization