We Must Reject the Harmful Practice of Conversion Therapy.

AuthorJahangir, Junaid B.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Canada banned conversion therapy, effective January 7, 2022. What does this ban mean to me?

OPINION | The views expressed in this article are those of the author.

The issue of conversion therapy is of paramount importance to me. I have spent more than a decade addressing Muslim homophobia and building the case for Muslim same-sex unions.

In 2005, when I gingerly broached the issue of homosexuality in an Islamic magazine, I was met with stiff resistance. To date, the Muslim position remains that acting upon same-sex desires constitutes a major sin. And justifying same-sex unions is tantamount to apostasy, which under classical interpretations of Islam merits the death punishment in an Islamic state. Such opinions continue to be advocated on the Muslims in Calgary website as part of normative Islam.

It took me more than a decade to create Islamic scholarship that affirms gay Muslims. Back in 2005, there weren't many resources for LGBTQ Muslims. I came across Rabbi Emeritus Gershom Barnard's article that was later replaced by the Conservative Jewish affirmation of same-sex unions. He had written:

[I]n my lifetime, medical opinion has changed from treating homosexuals with hormones, to treating them with psychoanalysis, to treating them with behavioral conditioning, to saying that there is no treatment, indeed, that there is nothing to treat.

However, several LGBTQ Muslim youth, who discover themselves at a young age, are either morally persuaded or willingly consider conversion therapy to deal with the cognitive dissonance they feel between their sexuality and their faith, as it is presented to them. They also become susceptible to homelessness, substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, feelings of worthlessness, self-hatred, and suicide attempts.

In working on my 2016 paper that critiqued conversion therapy in Islam, I came across the testimonies of several Muslim teenagers who expressed extreme discomfort with their sexual orientation. One felt that fasting had not helped in controlling his desires. Another expressed that she couldn't eat or sleep. And yet another wanted to commit suicide.

For my paper, I referenced the exhaustive 2009 task force report of the American Psychological Association (APA) on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), which clearly indicates that there is no scientific...

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