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Though home to historic advancements for LGBT equality in recent years, the United States is garnering some negative international attention over the practice of gay conversion therapy.
Three members of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) questioned State Department officials Wednesday about why 48 U.S. states still permit some form of “treatment” to turn gay youth straight, despite the fact that medical experts have deemed the practice psychologically damaging and ineffective. The questions – asked by CAT representatives from Mauritius, Denmark and Nepal during the committee’s 53rd session in Geneva – mark the first time the issue has been raised as a potential violation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The American delegation made no mention of conversion therapy Thursday, choosing instead to respond to other issues upon which CAT will evaluate the U.S. in its compliance report later this month. But LGBT advocates called this week’s discussion a significant step.
“Yesterday, the U.N. Committee Against Torture made conversion therapy an issue in international human rights law. There’s no going back from that,” Samantha Ames, a campaign coordinator with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), told msnbc. She testified before the committee Wednesday, along with Samuel Brinton, a conversion therapy survivor.
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