SAMANTHA AMES is an attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, where she oversees the #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy. Follow NCLR's journey to Geneva by following the hashtags #BornPerfect and #EndTorture, onNCLRights.org, and on Twitter @NCLRights, @SamanthaSAmes, and @SBrinton. And feel free to share your own experiences with therapy using #BornPerfect.
There we were. Around the illustrious circular United Nations briefing tables at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, among the 70 human rights advocates from across the United States, the largest delegation in the history of the U.N.’s Committee Against Torture.
Together, as leaders of the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ #BornPerfect campaign, Samuel Brinton and I had spent a sleepless few days working around the clock to make committee members aware of the dangers of conversion therapy, especially for LGBT youth.
What happened this morning, we could have never imagined.
The moment the words “conversion therapy” left rapporteur Jens Modvig’s lips, gasps filled the room. We had done it. Modvig, the Committee Against Torture member from Denmark, asked the delegation from the U.S. State Department how conversion therapy could still be going on in the United States in 2014. Sam, a conversion therapy survivor, who had courageously testified through tears the previous day, grabbed my hand and squeezed so hard I thought it might break. We had done what we came here to do: For the first time, a United Nations committee had addressed conversion therapy as an international human rights issue. It was unbelievable.