Conversion Therapy Bans and Legal Paternalism: Justifying State Intervention to Restrict a LGBT Individual’s Autonomy to Undergo Conversion Therapy
Claudia Man-Yiu Tam
LLM, Human Rights Law (London School of Economics and Political Science), LLB (University of Hong Kong), GB
Conversion therapy is harmful, ineffective, and lacks scientific and medical justification, yet 2% of LGBT individuals in the UK have undergone it and a further 5% have been offered it. This begs the question: why is conversion therapy still not banned in the UK? This article aims to rebut a common argument employed against conversion therapy bans, that is the right of LGBT individuals to choose to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, put simply, individual autonomy. Engaging with Gerald Dworkin’s hard paternalism and Joel Feinberg’s soft paternalism, I argue that conversion therapy bans are a legitimate form of state interference with an individual’s autonomy, as the decision to undergo such therapy is non-rational and not voluntary enough. I rely on the logics behind existing paternalistic bans on physician-assisted suicide for persons with disabilities, consensual cannibalism, and healthy limb amputation to show that a ban on conversion therapy similarly upholds LGBT individuals’ equality and dignity. Ultimately, I defend the position that a paternalistic ban on conversion therapy is legally and morally justified, even if the decision to undergo therapy is consensual.
How to Cite:
Tam, C.M.-Y., 2021. Conversion Therapy Bans and Legal Paternalism: Justifying State Intervention to Restrict a LGBT Individual’s Autonomy to Undergo Conversion Therapy. LSE Law Review, 7(1), pp.1–28.
14 Nov 2021.