The announcement this week of a Government pledge to consider options to end the practice of conversion therapy is a positive development says the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy.

Dr Igi/Lyndsey Moon, who is chair of the Coalition and British Psychological Society (BPS) lead said: “This is a clear sign that the Government has at long last listened to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and national organisations who have tirelessly campaigned for change. We, along with our Coalition partners, have repeatedly called for an end to the practice of conversion therapy and will work with the Government to ensure it delivers on its promise. The Coalition will fully engage with the forthcoming consultation on the best way to implement an end to this practice.”

The Coalition against Conversion Therapy launched a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU2) against conversion therapy with the backing of all major psychological, psychotherapeutic and counselling organisations in the UK, including BPS, BACP, and the UK Council for Psychotherapy in October 2017. It has been supported by Stonewall, NHS England and NHS Scotland.

It makes 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.

It’s important to note that the MoU2 is not intended to deny, discourage or exclude those with uncertain feelings around sexuality or gender identity from seeking help from an appropriate and qualified professional. It aims to help therapists to provide appropriately informed and ethical practice when working with a client who wishes to explore their sexual orientation or gender identity, or experiences conflict or distress in these areas.

Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair of BACP says: “BACP welcomes the updated MoU as it will ensure individuals are protected from judgemental and uninformed therapy. I am pleased to see it get vital recognition in parliament today.

“We believe in a society where everyone can express their gender identity or sexual orientation without fear of judgement, or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are. Gender identities and sexual orientations are not mental health disorders, although we know that mental health issues can be brought on more quickly in individuals subjected to the abuses of prejudice, exclusion or stigma.

“BACP in no way supports or condones the practice of conversion therapy. We believe that every individual should have access to non-judgemental therapy, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity. This should be provided by an informed practitioner, who is dedicated to delivering skilled and evidence based therapy.

“We commit to continuing to work within the area of gender and sexual diversity, to increase our knowledge, understanding and learning about the issues faced by our clients and the public.”

The Coalition will continue to work towards the aims of the MoU2 and LGBT Action Plan by ensuring 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.

The Coalition Against Conversion Therapy is hosting an event to celebrate the MoU2 on Wednesday 4th July from 4 to 6pm in the Stranger’s Dining Room, House of Commons.

The Coalition Against Conversion Therapy is a consortium of 16 national organisations:

  • The British Psychological Society
  • The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
  • Association of Christian Counsellors
  • The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists
  • British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • British Psychoanalytic Council
  • CliniQ
  • College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists
  • The National Counselling Society
  • NHS England
  • NHS Scotland
  • Pink Therapy
  • Relate
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • UK Council for Psychotherapy

Read the MOU (pdf)