An updated memorandum of understanding (MoU) against conversion therapy has been launched today, which makes it clear that conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation (including asexuality) is unethical, potentially harmful and is not supported by evidence.

Conversion therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

The primary purpose of the 2017 MoU is the protection of the public through a commitment to ending the practice of ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK. The 2017 MoU updates one released in 2015 at the Department of Health, which focused exclusively on sexual orientation, and is endorsed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charity Stonewall.

The MoU also intends to ensure that:

  • the public are well informed about the risks of conversion therapy
  • healthcare professionals and psychological therapists are aware of the ethical issues relating to conversion therapy
  • new and existing psychological therapists are appropriately trained
  • evidence into conversion therapy is kept under regular review
  • professionals from across the health, care and psychological professions work together to achieve the above goals

Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses. Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.

Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair of British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) says:

“We believe in a society where everyone can express their sexual orientation or gender identity. BACP in no way support or condone the practice of conversion therapy and know that the new memorandum will ensure individuals are protected from judgemental and uninformed therapy.

“Every individual should have access to non-judgemental therapy; whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it should be provided by an informed practitioner, committed to delivering skilled and evidence based therapy.

“BACP is committed to continuing to work within the area of sexual and gender diversity, to further broaden our knowledge, understanding and learning about the issues faced by our clients and the public.”

Memorandum of Understanding v2

Notes for editors

The Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion therapy is signed by:

  • Association of Christian Counsellors
  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
  • British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)
  • British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)
  • British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • CliniQ
  • College of Sex and Relationship Therapists (COSRT)
  • GLADD (The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists)
  • National Counselling Society
  • NHS England
  • NHS Scotland
  • Pink Therapy
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
  • UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)

It is also supported by Stonewall.