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What are the ethical arguments for and against conversion therapy?

Quick answer:

One of the main ethical concerns regarding conversion therapy is that it goes against the basic ethical principles. There are no ethical arguments in favor of conversion therapy.

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Conversion therapy as a method of "repairing" someone's sexuality or gender identity is unethical. Countless studies prove that it causes great harm to those that undergo it and jeopardizes their mental, physical, and emotional health, to such extent that they may attempt to take their own lives.

From an ethical standpoint, conversion therapy is incredibly harmful, as it ignores three of the four fundamental ethical principles and disregards basic human rights.

A medical professional or counselor should never refer someone to a conversion therapist, as conversion therapy goes against the principle of beneficence, which states that we must always do good and have one's best interests at heart. The doctor is obligated to educate the parents about all of the negative aspects of conversion therapy, as well as to provide moral support and guidance for the child—to guide them as they uncover their identity and sexuality and to reassure them that their feelings are valid.

By approving conversion therapy, the doctor also disregards the principle of nonmaleficence, which states that we mustn't inflict harm on others. Referring the child to a conversion therapist intentionally can be harmful to the child's mental and physical health and well-being. It is scientifically proven that conversion therapy is not only ineffective but also often results with severe mental and emotional problems and trauma, depression, and suicidal tendencies.

Finally, the doctor must take the third ethical principle into consideration—the principle of autonomy, which states that we must respect other people's autonomy and the decisions they make about their own lives. If the child is a minor, then most of the decisions regarding its existence are made by the parents. However, if the parents are convinced that conversion therapy is the best choice for their child, then the doctor must calmly and patiently educate them and encourage them to protect the child and whatever autonomy it has. The doctor should also try to be as understanding and as tolerant as possible, so that both the child and the parents feel comfortable enough to freely share their thoughts and emotions and hopefully understand that conversion therapy is unnecessary and that the child is perfectly healthy as it is.

There are no pros or benefits to conversion therapy or any other similar practice or method.

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