Poster for May 17th International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, homosexuality and trans identity are not diseases. Conversion therapy

An identity, not a disease !


Conversion therapy

This practice which aims to "cure" homosexuality or transidentity is illegal in very few countries. It can take many forms including psychoanalysis and aversion therapy (causing an uncomfortable or painful feeling when the person has homosexual feelings). In addition to not producing the results it promise, conversion therapy can cause anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

This practice, condemned by many organizations such as the Canadian Psychological Association, is also known under other names such as "reparative therapy".

Bias and prejudice

Prejudices against homosexuals are not new and it is not easy to fight them.

Unfortunately, issues related to the transmission of STIs and policies of exclusion for donated blood and organs reinforce these prejudices by associating homosexual relations with disease.

The same is true for transidentity, often associated with mental illness although it is not.


It was not until December 15, 1973, that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its reference manual of mental illnesses. The decision was reflected in the DSM-III published in 1980.

On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses. It is in honor of this day that the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia is held on May 17th.

Finally, in 2018, WHO finally removed transidentity from its list of mental illnesses.

Did you know ?

In a 2015 study done in New York State, 10.5% of LGBT people aged 18 to 24 reported having been subjected to conversion therapy. This proportion rises to 14.2% (1 in 7) for trans youth.


Did you know ?

In a 2008 study in Canada, nearly one in ten participants admitted that they had already avoided seeking a health service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This proportion rises to 30% among trans people.


In the health sector

Giving blood and organs

A person can transmit an infection or illness to another person during sexual intercourse. Risks depend on sexual behaviors and not on sexual orientations.

Exclusion policies of groups of people that rely on statistical probabilities, perpetuate stigma and do not follow common sense (a man who has safe sex with another man is less at risk than a man who does not protect himself with a women).


LGBTQ + people should not feel uncomfortable discussing their sexual orientation or gender identity with a health care provider, but unfortunately this is still the case. This discomfort may compromise the quality of the relationship and service rendered, and may even be dangerous. Indeed, some LGBTQ + people are more reluctant to consult a doctor, or to reveal certain information to them, which can have adverse effects on their health.

It is relevant !

Various issues related to quality of life and physical and mental health may be related to gender orientation and gender identity and, in particular, to the prejudice that accompanies them: aging, the discovery of sexual orientation and one’s body, suicide, relating to people one’s age, assisted reproduction techniques and adoption, laws establishing parentage rules and other legal aspects such as the mandate of incapacity, STIs and HIV / AIDS, violence and drug abuse, etc.


Canadians want health workers to be trained on the issues related to homosexuality

Survey results

Survey results 2008 health professional should have a training to better understand homosexuals

According to our survey, conducted in 2008:

  • Four in five Canadians (79%) think it is important for health care workers to receive adequate training on issues related to homosexuality.

  • 14% of respondents thought that homosexuality was a mental disorder and 30% of respondents said that there are treatments to help someone who wants to change their sexual orientation.

  • 29% of Canadians think that mental health specialists should not help homosexuals to accept their orientation.


Original edition

© 2018 by Fondation Émergence
Proudly created with