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Criminalization and Conversion: Prevalence and Practices of So-called Conversion Therapy in Africa





Maria Sjödin
Published Date

“Conversion therapy” is the term most often attributed to practices which seek to change, suppress, or divert the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of people who do not fit the presumed norm of cis-gender heterosexuality. The practices are also called reorientation therapy, reparative therapy, reintegrative therapy, gay cure therapy, or, more recently, support for unwanted same-sex attraction or transgender identities. Regardless of what name is attributed, or the form the practices take, they are widely recognized to be based on junk science, and they cause deep and lasting trauma in those upon whom these practices are inflicted. 

Awareness about such practices has grown in a number of countries, such as the USA, parts of Europe and Australia, where authorities have sought to ban them. But elsewhere in the world, very little has been known about “conversion therapy”. It may seem surprising then, that in the first global survey of its kind seeking to characterize the prevalence, nature, drivers and effects of such practices worldwide conducted by Outright International, the majority of responses (46%) came not from the regions seeking bans, but from Africa (predominantly Sub-Saharan Africa). A region of the world for which little to no information about so-called conversion therapy practices was known prior to  “Harmful Practices. The Global Reach of So-Called Conversion Therapy” being released. 


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