Latest Opinions: CNECV defends awareness campaigns against "sex conversion therapies"

The CNECV unanimously approved, at the 277th extraordinary Plenary Meeting, held on 9 May, Opinion No. 125/CNECV/2023.

The reflection arises in response to the request of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees to assess, in ethical terms, Draft Bills 699/XV/1ª (PAN), which provides for the criminalisation of practices aiming at changing, limiting or repressing sexual orientation and gender identity, and promotes the study of these practices in Portugal and the guarantee of support and response mechanisms; and 707/XV/1ª (PS), which prohibits practices that are offensive to LGBTQ+ people through the so-called "sexual conversion therapies".

The Council underlines that adequate, effective and urgent measures need to be taken to protect children and young people by contributing to greater literacy among parents, families and communities through awareness-raising campaigns on the ineffectiveness and consequences of these practices. The promotion of dialogue between medical organisations and health professionals, religious organisations and spiritual groups or communities, educational institutions and community-based organisations, is a point to be taken into consideration to raise awareness about the human rights violations that these therapies entail.

In its reflection, the CNECV considers it essential to promote healthcare related to the free development and/or affirmation of sexual orientation and/or gender identity to people who wish to benefit from it, including a system of measures aimed at promoting the understanding, acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people. It is essential to implement and disseminate studies that clarify the personal impact of "sexual conversion therapies" and the evidence on the practices of Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation (EMOS) and Efforts to Change Gender Identity (EMIG) in Portugal, so that appropriate strategies can be adopted to counteract them. In the opinion, it is also expressed the importance of allocating resources for the identification and support to victims of "sex conversion therapies", as well as publicising that such practices can be reported through proper channels. A comprehensive approach, involving all these aspects and not just a new incrimination, was considered necessary, advocating the prohibition of all practices of EMOS and EMIG, as well as their promotion, and creating a system of sanctions, including disciplinary, proportional to the seriousness of the intervention, the qualification of the agent, the nature of the health institution and the vulnerability of the person.

In the same extraordinary Plenary Meeting, the CNECV also approved, by majority of those present, the Opinion N.º 124/CNECV/2023 on Draft Bill 705/XV/1 (CH) that intends to reinforce the protection and privacy of children and young people in the spaces of intimacy in school contexts, a matter on which it had already pronounced itself previously through the Opinion N.º 120/CNECV/2022. The Council considers that the maintenance of sanitary facilities and changing rooms, in a school environment, with gender criteria, is ethically acceptable, provided that there are uncharacterised spaces to which the school community can freely access, without any gender criteria.

The CNECV is committed to respond to official requests in the shortest possible time, with some extraordinary meetings being held remotely.

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