- 18 Dec 17
It’s more commonly considered an American phenomenon, and has been associated with US vice president Mike Pence – but gay conversion therapy is also being carried out here in Ireland. Hot Press has uncovered a disturbing case, which powerfully illustrates the potentially harmful nature of the practice. Report: Jack Maguire
Considering that homosexuality was decriminalised here as recently as the 1990s, LGBTQ rights in Ireland have progressed rapidly. The country made international headlines with the same-sex marriage referendum in May 2015, and the Gender Recognition Act two months later. This momentum continued into 2017, which saw the instatement of a gay Taoiseach and discussions on the legal recognition of non-binary citizens.
With the referendum to legalise abortion scheduled to take place next May, it would appear from a distance that Ireland has totally separated itself from its oppressive Catholic past. However, evidence also exists to the contrary. The stain left by Church power upon our country continues to show itself in ugly new ways. For instance, the attempts at ‘gay conversion therapy’, which are now taking place in an Irish context, have thus far fallen beneath the radar of the media.
This widely discredited treatment is generally associated with places where homophobia is rampant, including evangelical churches in Southern US states and Chechnyan torture camps. Attempts to alter sexual orientation through psychiatric treatments date back to the early 20th century, but lessened in frequency after homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973. After this landmark decision, electric shock therapy and ice pick lobotomies gave way to talk-therapy based endeavours.