A number of key bodies in mental health and psychotherapy have brought out a joint statement condemning so-called “conversion therapies” or “reparative therapies” which aim to turn gay people straight. The memorandum of understanding is signed by, among others, the Department of Health, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
This is a welcome move, as such “therapies” have no evidence base for their effectiveness, and usually create self-loathing rather than self-acceptance in the client. I’m especially pleased to see that the memorandum has also been signed by the Association of Christian Counsellors. I previously covered their decision to finally condemn such practices, and to expel from their membership Lesley Pilkington, who had previously been struck off by the BACP over her use of conversion therapy.
The Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said,
“We have always been clear that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not an illness. Any therapy that claims to change a person’s sexual orientation is not just unethical – it’s potentially harmful. I welcome this commitment from NHS England, the Royal Colleges and professional bodies to help tackle any such practice in the UK.”
Janet Weisz, chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy said,
‘The public must know that they can access therapeutic help without fear of judgment.
‘For a therapist to agree to try and “cure” or “reduce” same sex attraction would be unethical and potentially harmful. I am clear this practice has no place in the modern psychotherapy profession.
‘This memorandum builds on the NHS Choices public information leaflet and contains a series of commitments that bolster training support to practitioners and information and advice to the public.
‘It is great to see so many parts of the psychological and medical profession uniting on this key diversity and equality issue.’
I welcome the statement, but would also like to see it expanded to include therapies aimed at converting transgender people back to their birth gender. This issue was highlighted by the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl who died by suicide after being sent for conversion therapy.
LGBT people do not need “converting” through so-called therapy. Society needs educating to accept LGBT people as normal human beings who are perfectly fine just the way the are.
The joint statement can be read in full here.