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'The practice of ‘conversion’ therapy has no place in our society, our health care system or in our schools'

'The practice of ‘conversion’ therapy has no place in our society, our health care system or in our schools'
3 min read

Conservative MP Mike Freer writes about his Westminster Hall debate today on Gay conversion therapies and is calling for an outright ban on them.

In 1967 Homosexuality was decriminalised in Great Britain. It was a significant step towards recognising that homosexuality was not something which should be punishable by law.

The passage of further legislation, including equal age of consent, making it legal for gay men and women to serve in the British military, greater rights for homosexual couples to adopt and have children of their own, and the right to marry the person they love, all emphasise what the majority of successive Governments have come to accept: being gay is not a disease; being gay is not an illness.

Being gay is, however; quite simply, something which is involuntary; a way in which an individual’s mind and body chooses to express want, desire and feelings – love. This is not something which is taught or even grown into, it just is.

There is no scientific evidence which confirms why people are gay – they just are. On the flip-side, when looking at ‘conversion’ treatments, there is no credible research evidence, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), to suggest that through psychological therapy, professionally trained psychologists can ‘convert’ homosexuals into heterosexuals.

In 1990, far too late in my opinion, but nonetheless welcome, the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its directory of psychological disorders, internationally recognising that homosexuality was not and is not a ‘disorder’ which can be ‘cured’.

In fact, not a single medical body supports the concept of ‘reparative’ therapy. The RCP, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the British Medical Association have all concluded that such therapy is ‘unethical and potentially’ harmful.

Although it is again welcome that an authoritative body of medical professionals have come together, through the UK Council for Psychotherapy, to produce a document entitled, ‘Memorandum of Understanding on Gay Conversion Therapy’. This does not nearly go far enough.

It is not enough for the medical profession to simply blow hot air. When regulation of this sector of therapy is merely voluntary, it proves very difficult to apply the standards advocated in the Memorandum. Without statutory regulation, vulnerable men and women are susceptible to such therapies.

I am very grateful for the support the Prime Minister has shown for this issue. Before the 2015 General Election, David Cameron was interviewed by PinkNews, in that interview he said: “We [the Conservatives] are creating a country where people can be free to be themselves, and no-one should be pressured into being someone they’re not…”

Unfortunately, the current situation allows some psychologists to go against the desire to build a country where “…people can be free to be themselves.”

The practice of ‘conversion’ therapy has no place in our society, no place in our health care system or in our schools. Through statutory regulation those who do not comply with the criteria set out in the Memorandum would be struck off and banned from practising.

I am calling for an end to the practice of ‘reparative’ and ‘conversion’ therapy in our country. If the majority of the British and American psychological profession are coming out in favour of banning such treatments; well, the answer is staring us right in the face. Ban it.

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