Savulescu warns that “love-diminishing” drugs could be used for gay “conversion therapy”

In recent years Oxford bioethicist Julian Savulescu has written extensively about the neuro-enhancement of human relationships. In a number of papers, he has studied the ethics of using drugs to strengthen or improve romantic relationships. But how about the use of “individual, voluntary use of love-diminishing biotechnology”? In other words, drugs which would inhibit or reduce love or sexual attraction. If love is essentially chemical, the tap can be turned on or off.

Although this is currently not feasible, Savulescu and co-authors Brian D. Earp and Anders Sandberg warn that drugs could be used to reverse homosexual inclinations. In a controversial paper in the American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, Brave new love: The threat of high-tech ‘conversion’ therapy and the bio-oppression of sexual minorities”, they examine the ethics of using drugs to “normalize” people with atypical sexual desires.

They conclude that the use of conversion drugs on minors should be illegal but “in rare cases” they could be used by consenting adults, even if they are religious fundamentalists. “It seems hard to maintain… that John Stuart Mill’s famous “experiments in living” should be selectively closed off to socially conservative/religious people, but permitted for everyone else,” they write.

Nevertheless, there should be a concomitant struggle against anti-gay religious prejudice: “parallel efforts must also be made to fight against significant social pressures [that are] placed only on sexual minorities to alter their sexual orientations”.

The authors conclude that a love-diminishing drug needs to be regulated carefully to prevent coercion. However, it could have a positive side: “it could be used in a process of self-creation, for those who wanted to experience alternative sexual and/or relational orientations, whether from same-sex attraction to opposite-sex attraction, opposite-sex attraction to same-sex attraction, or even other possibilities in between.”

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | enhancement, gay conversion therapy, julian savulescu, love drug, transhumanism

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

comments powered by Disqus