UK mental health bodies unite to condemn ‘gay cure’ therapy

Psychologist groups say conversion therapy is dangerous, has the potential to cause harm, and is often based on religion than actual understanding of sexuality

UK mental health bodies unite to condemn ‘gay cure’ therapy
28 February 2014

UK’s most senior mental health bodies have released a joint statement condemning ‘gay cure’ therapy today (28 February).

The groups have condemned the practice known as ‘conversion therapy’, as requested by the Department of Health, to say it has potential to cause harm and are more likely to be based on religion rather than on an informed understanding of sexual orientation.

Conversion therapy suggests to vulnerable people, they say, that sexuality is the root cause of their difficulties. This claim the groups say is misleading and prejudiced.

The government has ruled out banning therapists from providing ‘gay cure’ therapy for now, a ruling that has been slammed by LGBTI rights activists.

The UK Council for Psychotherapy said: ‘It is exploitative for a psychotherapist to offer treatment that might ‘cure’ or ‘reduce’ same sex attraction as to do so would be offering a treatment for which there is no illness.’

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy added: ‘There is no scientific, rational or ethical reason to treat people who identify within a range of human sexualities any differently from those who identify solely as heterosexual.’

Same-sex sexual orientations are not diagnosable illnesses, the British Psychological Society says, ‘they do not require any therapeutic interventions to change them.’

The British Psychoanalytic Council states: ‘The BPC does not accept that a homosexual orientation is evidence of disturbance of the mind or in development. In psychoanalytic psychotherapy, it is the quality of people’s relationships which are explored, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual.’

The Royal College of Psychiatrists states: ‘The Royal College of Psychiatrists believes strongly in evidence-based treatment. There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.

‘Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish.’

The united statement follows a House of Commons debate in November that stated they will not be putting any ban on gay cure therapy into law.

James Taylor, Head of Policy at Stonewall, said: ‘We’re deeply concerned about voodoo “gay-cure” therapies and their promotion and it is vital we stamp out this damaging practice.

‘In 21st century Britain lesbian, gay and bisexual people should be able to access therapy and counselling services without fear of discrimination or judgement.’

Gay journalist Patrick Strudwick has campaigned the UK government to ban ‘gay cure’ therapy for good. 

Speaking to Gay Star News, he said: ‘I welcome this statement heartily, it serves as both a victory for LGBT people – and those of us who have campaigned against this abusive practice – but alaso as a warning to those still peddling gay "cures". 

‘However, today MPs have the opportunity to stamp out conversion therapy for good, by voting for the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) Bill, which would regulate the profession, enabling the government to stop any young gay person falling victim to these dangerous quacks.

‘I strongly urge MPs to vote for the bill.’ 

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