News (World)

Trans teen forced to castrate pig in one of Russia’s “thriving” ex-gay clinics

An image of a dirty pig in a muddy pen
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Debunked anti-gay science is thriving in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia as more than a dozen so-called conversion therapy clinics are reportedly subjecting LGBTQ+ patients to treatments intended to “cure” the “gay condition.”

Current Time, an independent Russian-language news site, reports “patients” are often sent to clinics against their will and sometimes isolated from the outside world for several months.

“Treatments” — provided by certified doctors, clinics, religious communities, hypnotists, and addiction rehab centers — include forced psychotropic drug therapy, prayer, and hypnosis.

One organization contacted by Current Time was Orthodox rehabilitation center “Unquenchable Hope,” located in the Moscow region. Posing as someone concerned that a loved one was gay, a journalist asked if the center could “cure homosexuality.” A staff member replied that they would try.

The clinic offered to transport the gay individual to the center and recommended a six-month stay with no outside contact, as well as time spent in prayer and supervised by psychologists. The fee would be $540 per month.

At the “Workshop of the Soul and Body of the Nikitenko Brothers” in Moscow, the “gay condition” is addressed with hypnosis via Skype. An LGBTQ+ correspondent went undercover at the “workshop” to investigate their methods.

The session was essentially a “heart-to-heart” conversation, the journalist reported, during which co-founder Ivan Nikitenko revealed personal details about other clients. 

Nikitenko later sent hypnotic suggestion recordings addressing self-control and set to a meditative electronic music soundtrack. “The promised ‘healing’ did not come,” the correspondent said.

At “Real” — another Moscow religious organization that agreed to “treat” a gay “patient” — rules for group classes included a mandatory pledge to not “watch porn” and to foreswear “sexual fantasies and masturbation.” Communication among group members was banned outside the presence of a supervisor.

The investigation by Current Time — which is funded in part by Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, and is included on a list of “undesirable organizations” published by Russia’s Ministry of Justice in 2023 — follows reporting by the The Washington Post on abductions of Russian LGBTQ+ children forced into conversion therapy by their own families.

A 23-year-old transgender nonbinary queer activist and journalist named Ada Blakewell said she was abducted by thugs and later forced to castrate a pig to see what transgender surgery would be like.

“I was given a surgical knife and given instructions how to do it,” she said. “But I couldn’t finish it. I had a severe panic attack and from then on, I was getting more and more suicidal.”

Blakewell escaped months later.

Conversion therapy has been banned in 22 U.S. states and in 12 countries, according to the international lawmakers network Global Equality Caucus. The United Nations has called for a worldwide prohibition of the “bogus” practice.

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