Conversion Therapy in the UK
Conversion Therapy: Homophobia dressed up as therapy
After Dusty Ray Bottoms, a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, went into horrific detail about how as a young gay man he was forced to undergo conversion therapy after his parents found he was gay I thought it prudent to talk about conversion therapy in the UK. Conversion therapy is the homophobic practice of attempting to alter someone’s sexual orientation to heterosexuality. It has been condemned by psychiatrist and medical bodies throughout the Western World as being not just ineffective but also outright dangerous.
Conversion therapy is legal in the UK despite calls by medical professions, activist, politicians and even the Church to see this practice banned. The practice is not mainstream, so it is not regulated or held up to the professional standards of proper therapy in the UK. In a 2004 medical journal one kind of ‘treatment’ involved giving patients nausea inducing drugs whilst playing gay erotica to them. This so-called therapy can also come in the form of counselling, electric shock therapy and even exorcisms. Many of these pseudo-scientists will claim that the reasons for homosexuality is due to distant parents or a childhood trauma and that through therapy this can be corrected. They will also claim that a person can choose to walk away from the ‘gay lifestyle’ if they want to. It seems obvious to me that if a therapist offers you an exorcism that this is someone you should be running a million miles in the other direction from as they are clearly the person who needs help.
The UK Council for Psychotherapy have stated that psychologists who offer such treatment are being exploitative and disingenuous as same-sex attraction is not something that requires treatment or to be cured. There have been calls for many years for conversion therapy to be banned in the UK with the most recent calls having come this year when Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw called on the Government to ban the practice. The Church of England have also backed the call for such therapies to be banned, whilst many of these practices do come from a fundamentalist religious background they are not supported by most Christians in the UK.
Conversion therapy is not common place in the UK but in a 2009 report 1 in 25 psychiatrists admitted they would be willing to administer therapy to try and ‘help’ gay or bisexual patients to convert to heterosexuality. Even though conversion therapy is mostly frowned upon in the UK as being fake science Exodus International, a US group which boasts being the largest ‘ex gay’ movement in the world have reached out throughout the world in attempts to bring people out of homosexuality.
It is a sad fact that there are some people in the UK that still believe that homosexuality is wrong, and that people can choose to change their sexual orientation should they wish to. Many of the victims of this ‘treatment’ are unfortunately very young, vulnerable people whose parents do not support them in the way that they should. LGBT people have a higher incidence of mental health problems than the general population and are more likely to seek out therapy. The reasons for these issues are not due to their sexual orientation but due to how society has reacted to them. At no point does a person need to be cured of their sexual orientation and the Government should act straight away to ban this homophobic practice.
By Daniel Carter for Canal St Online