Homophobia and Conversion ‘Therapies’

Authored by: Sean Aas , Candice Delmas

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Sex and Sexuality

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9781138370678
eBook ISBN: 9781003286523
Adobe ISBN:


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There is little serious scholarly debate over the value of existing “conversion therapies” aimed at changing sexual orientation, given that there is reason to believe that they do not work and that they cause harm. More controversial, however, is (i) whether and how the state should regulate these technologies, particularly when prescribed to minors, and (ii) whether and in what way the ethics of sexual orientation conversion would change, if safe and effective techniques became available. Here we consider these controversies over sexual orientation change efforts. We argue, first, that the state has a strong interest in banning current “conversion therapies” for minors and regulating their marketing and sale even for adults. Second, we argue that, although it would be morally permissible to prescribe and use safe and effective conversion techniques, there is good reason to hope that the techniques do not become available and to take steps to prevent their development, given serious harms that would result for sexual minority communities.

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