There are some 15 individuals and organisations which try to ‘cure’ homosexuality operating in the Netherlands, according to a report commissioned by the health ministry.
These are people and agencies which ‘may also organise peripheral activities (e.g. holiday camps, seminars and workshops) in which a non-heterosexual orientation is regarded as problematic and attempts are made to “remedy” this,’ the researchers said in a report.
MPs had called for the research in the wake of reports about youngsters, particularly in orthodox religious families, being compelled to go through ‘conversion’ therapy. They have also called for the practice to be made illegal.
The research is based on surveys carried out among faith communities and interviews with young people who have gone through such programmes, and who had often approached the therapist themselves. The therapy ranges from weeks of one-to-one sessions to a single conversation with a priest or faith healer.
‘In the interviews almost all the personal-experience experts talk of psychological disorders (depression, suicidal thoughts, eating issues), sexual problems, social disorders, and finally also about religious changes,’ the report said.
One young man who had gone through the process told broadcaster NOS that a ban on the practice would achieve little. ‘You simply call it treatment for depression or the like,’ he said. ‘And you won’t get many complaints from victims because in most cases this is something they want to do. And that applied to me as well.’
Nevertheless, lhbt rights lobby group COC Nederland called on MPs to bring in a ban as soon as possible. ‘It is a myth to think you can cure lhbt people. You are good as you are,’ the spokesman said.
Health minister Hugo de Jonge said he is waiting for the results of a second part of the survey at the end of June to respond in detail.
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