The National Health Service is paying for people to have therapy to turn them straight, it has been claimed.

According to an investigation by the Independent, some GPs are referring people to ‘reparative’ therapists to help them change their sexual orientation.

Research released last year from University College London found that one in six UK psychiatrists and psychotherapists have tried to change a patient’s sexual orientation.

The newspaper claimed that the co-ordination of the American ‘ex-gay’ movement is inspiring UK therapists to seek more credibility through research and government funding.

Gay writer Patrick Studwick posed as a man struggling with his sexual orientation and visited two therapists after attending a talk in London by Dr Joseph Nicolosi, the founder of the American National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

One therapist, named only as Lynne, told him he was experiencing “same-sex attraction” because emotionally, parts of him had not developed.

Strudwick was told that it was “very likely” he was sexually abused by a family member as a child. He was also told that HIV-positive people can be healed by the power of prayer.

When Strudwick asked how a friend could be referred to her for help with homosexuality, she said: “I think it would be better to say anxiety and depression [to a GP] initially and then we can take it from there.

“He can usually get four sessions with the practice, which are paid for by the NHS.”

Strudwick was also invited to attend a meeting with Dr Jeffrey Satinover, 62, an American psychiatrist.

In the meeting, Satinover discussed ways to gain credibility and money for ex-gay therapy, citing a training programme which could be linked with a university, along with PhD research into the field.

The study from University College London found that 17 per cent of the 1,400 professionals questioned had attempted to help patients “reduce” gay or lesbian feelings, utilising techniques such as aversion therapy, more commonly used in the 1970s and 1980s.

The therapy involved associating gay imagery with electronic shocks. But, just four per cent of therapists and psychiatrists said that they would try to use such treatments if asked by a patient today.

Some of the comments from therapists who did offer treatments that claim to change a patient’s sexuality were shocking.

“Although homosexual feelings are usual in people, their physical expression, and being a person’s only way of having sexual relations is problematic.”

One anonymous therapist wrote. “The physical act for male homosexuals is physically damaging and is the main reason in this country for AIDS/HIV. It is also perverse.”

Another wrote: “Where someone had a strong faith, then working to help the person accept their feelings but manage them appropriately may be the best approach if [the] person felt they would lose God and therefore their life was not worth living.”

To read the full Independent story, click here