A former Lutheran pastor who underwent therapy and hypnosis in an attempt to become heterosexual is to speak at a psychotherapy conference in London next month.

Maris Sants is to appear at the joint Pink Therapy/UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) conference, titled Working with Gender and Sexual Minorities

It follows a controversial Christian event held in London last weekend which promoted reparative therapy, which followers say can help gays to become straight.

The conference, scheduled for May 15th and 16th, will look at how homophobia in health care and mental health services continues to impact on lesbian, gay and transgender people and other sexual minorities.

Professor Michael King of University College London, who released research last month on gay therapy, will be speaking about his work.

The research, published in the BMC Psychiatry journal showed that a sixth of registered British therapist and psychiatrists have attempted to “cure” patients of homosexuality.

Other speakers will include Milan Djuric, who has won three international awards for his work with multiply-oppressed minorities in Serbia including gay Roma, and Miguel Rueda-Sáenz has been working with lesbians and gay men in Colombia since 1996.

Pink Therapy director Dominic Davies said: “We’re immensely pleased to have these three courageous pioneers who can share their experiences with us.

“The UK is a very multi-cultural society and I believe it will be helpful for therapists to know more about how homosexuality is dealt with around the world as well as sharing their experiences of being virtually sole out gay therapists in their respective countries. We all have much to learn from each other.”

Tom Warnecke, vice-chair of UKCP, said: “Mental health professionals helped create the discrimination against sexual minorities that dominated the last century. The mainstream mental health professions have moved on from these dark ages, but sadly, this has not yet lead to a more profound culture change.”

“Mike King’s findings suggest to me that there is a serious lack of adequate training. We need to ensure that psychotherapists and counsellors in private and public mental health services can respond appropriately to people who are distressed about some aspect of their sexuality or gender.”