At one time, a relatively common method to try to “cure” gay people was to administer painful electric shock aversion therapy. This barbaric method was first used against gay men in 1935, and it continued, by some reports, up through the 1980′s. NARTH recently issued a report defending reparative and other conversion therapies which cited dozens of papers touting the benefits of aversion therapy.
By the 1980′s, most efforts to “cure” homosexuality using the barbaric and punitive method had largely come to an end. But not everywhere. It was still employed in apartheid South Africa right up until the fall of the regime, and one of the notorious practitioners was Dr. Aubry Levin. He was so famous for his use of electric shock therapy that he was known as “Dr. Shock”:
Among the allegations levelled at Levin was that he used severe electric shocks as part of “aversion therapy” that was supposed to “cure” homosexuals. “Political deviants” who refused to bear arms in the apartheid forces were also referred to Levin, who commanded the major psychiatric wing of the military hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte in Pretoria and rose to become the apartheid government’s head of mental health.
Levin fled South Africa just before its transition to democracy, and settled in Calgary where he became a Canadian citizen. He refused to testify before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where it was alleged he had been guilty of gross human rights abuses. Once settled in Canada, Levin became an expert witness, performing court-ordered psychiatric assessments of convicted offenders awaiting sentence.
This past Tuesday, Levin was arrested and charged with sexual assault by Calgary police after a 36-year-old former patient alleged he was abused while under the doctor’s care. The patient reportedly had made complaints before, but couldn’t get authorities to believe him. The break came when the patient went to an appointment with a hidden camera in order to obtain evidence.
So far, it is unclear how many patients Levin handled under the courts. Police are reviewing current and past cases now, looking for further evidence of abuse. He was suspended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta the previous Friday when the allegations first surfaced, which means that he can no longer practice in that province.
Levin is listed as a clinical professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Calgary, but the Calgary Herald reports that University officials say he is no longer teaching.
Levin will appear in Provincial Court on April 8.