A call for institutionalised conversion therapy in Poland has been roundly condemned by therapeutic and psychological experts in the country.
Earlier this month, the Polish Episcopal Conference of Catholic bishops said that it was “necessary to create [conversion therapy] clinics… to help people regain their sexual health and natural sexual orientation”.
The call for a roll-out of conversion therapy — a practice condemned by the United Nations and nearly all of the world’s major medical and psychological bodies — has sparked alarm in Poland, where widespread anti-LGBT+ sentiment is rising.
Now, an open letter from Polish therapists and psychologists, published in the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, makes clear that conversion therapy has no place in Poland.
Addressed to the LGBT+ community, itmakes clear: “We object to the ideas promoted under the guise of conversion therapy, no matter the form or name such therapy is given.”
It adds: “As a professional community, we feel committed to spreading scientific knowledge about human sexuality and sexual identity, and to opposing violence and providing help to those who are dealing with its consequences.
“Unfortunately, prejudice is something you also encounter in medical offices and clinics. Before you decide to attend sessions with a particular counsellor, ask him or her about his or her qualifications, professional experience, and position towards LGBT+ people.
“You have the right to take care of yourself and to determine at the outset whether the person whose help you are seeking is guided by scientific principles or very particular private opinions about questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
“Make sure to look for recommendations from social organisations working with sexual minorities, ask direct questions, and expect your counsellor to validate his or her professional qualification with official documents.”
Therapists and psychologists says conversion therapy is ‘ideological stance disguised as treatment’.
It continues: “We apologise for every situation when instead of the help you were seeking, you encountered a bad word, an opinionated diagnosis, rejection, or an ideological stance disguised as a ‘treatment’.
“This should not have happened, and we will keep reminding our professional environment of the standards of psychological counselling and the state of scientific research.”
So-called conversion therapy refers to the dangerous and discredited practise of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organisation for decades, is often compared to torture and has been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide, and drug addiction.
The UN’s independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (IESOGI) called for a global ban on conversion therapy earlier this year.