Conversion Therapy in the UK

A memorandum was today signed by several important UK mental health organisations, who have agreed to try and end the practice of Conversion Therapy.

To the lay-person, Conversion Therapy is the term used to describe the practice of using psychotherapy to ‘turn’ a gay person straight.

One of the organisations who signed the agreement was our very own NHS, and it transpires that some GPs have been helping troubled gay people get referred to Conversion Therapy programmes.

And there I was mistakenly thinking we were living in the 21st century.

To try and therapise the shit out of someone’s brain until they renounce who they really are, is surely to kill a part of them.

Still, these things are rarely black and white.

What if you’re struggling to come to terms with your orientation, and what that orientation means for you and your future? You might desperately wish for a very traditional family unit, you may be part of a very close religious community (who you cherish, but for whom being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender would be wholly unacceptable), you may be fearful of losing the love and respect of your family. You may just not have planned your life this way.

If a person feels their current situation is intolerable and they are offered the opportunity to be ‘cured’, choosing this type of therapy is understandable. It’s just a shame the need for it exists at all.

Sadly, this form of therapy rarely has a positive outcome, and has on occasion resulted in suicide. Presumably when it doesn’t work, and the patient is convinced all is lost.

Thankfully, the 14 organisations who have formed this alliance agree that the right response should be to help patients accept, and hopefully one day embrace, who they really are.

The document makes clear that patients who appear distressed or unhappy with their sexual orientation should be helped to live more comfortably with their sexuality, and not try to change it.

– The Pink Pages, 14 jan ’15.

What is very heartening indeed about the memorandum is that of the 14 organisations to sign today, one of them is a Christian organisation.

This sends a very strong and positive message that the Christian church is becoming more accepting of gay people, something that I’m sure will be welcome to those who are both gay and have faith in the Christian church. It also goes a long way to showing the world that Christianity and bigotry are not mutually exclusive.

So, while it saddens me that the abolition of Conversion Therapy is still a 2015 news story, I’m heartened by the direction of this painfully slow trajectory towards human evolution.

In other words (all bullshit vocabulary aside), it’s a step in the right direction.


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