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Labour MP Diana Johnson: It’s now time for Parliament to tackle the issue of gay conversion therapy

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  1. Cue Gerald Howarth MP and his cronies saying “We told you, first we conceded gay marriage, now those aggressive gays don’t even want their therapists to tell them they’re intrinsically disordered and need to be turned straight.
    This is but a stepping stone to something even further…”

    in 5…4…3…2…

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 25 May 2013, 1:46pm

      The battle with religious delusional loons in the UK in regard to this issue predates the equal marriage bill and has nothing to do with it. Howarth and his gang of halfwitted clowns can rant all they want. They’re not psychiatrists and have absolutely no credibility.

  2. Robert in S. Kensington 25 May 2013, 1:41pm

    Kudos to Diana Johnson and Tom Stephens, long overdue to take this matter seriously.

    We can expect undoubtedly fierce resistance by mostly religious Tories in Parliament and faith based organisations to play the abuse of religious freedom card of course.

  3. Midnighter 25 May 2013, 1:59pm

    What an utterly brilliant article. I was aware that the professional organisations had acted against some members performing such therapy and in effect banned it, but I had no idea it was possible for it to still legitimately be practised in this country.

    Downloaded and seeking signatures (although it would be far more effective if this were done online, I suggest).

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 25 May 2013, 2:02pm

      I agree, an online petition would be far more effective as well as posting it on Facebook and Twitter reaching a far larger section of society.

  4. How on earth does the gay marriage bill, voted down by half of Tories “appear to close the final curtain on the Conservative Party’s chequered history on gay rights.”

    Let’s not Pinkwash history too fast – they are still a nasty party full of homophobes

  5. I am not clear why this should be any business of the state. Unless it’s a matter of false advertising.

    1. Many professions are regulated by the state, especially those related to medicine – why not psychotherapy?

  6. This is something which must be addressed asap. There was a study by WHO last year which found these programmes to be almost entirely ineffective and seriously damaging. Other studies have linked these therapies to higher rates of mental health problems and suicide attempts. Beyond the participants, the notion of a ‘cure’ only affirms entrenched ideas of homophobia both within the gay community and across society as a whole. The practitioners of these cures are unqualified to provide pycho-sexual counselling, guided purely by spiritual doctrine and their treatments have no basis in modern scientific thinking on the origins of sexuality. Basically, they’re dangerous!

    1. What, in your opinion, is “modern scientific thinking on the origins of sexuality”?

      1. That it’s not something which can be pathologised as an illness or a deviant behaviour. It just *is*.

      2. Robert in S. Kensington 25 May 2013, 6:30pm

        The scientific community are leaning towards genetics. Dr. Simon LeVay, an eminent British neuro-scientist based in the United States has done some very extensive research on this. In 1991, he published an article in ‘Science’ in which he discovered a difference in average size between the third Interstitial Nucleus of the Anterior Hypothalamus (INAH3) in the brains of heterosexual men and that the hypothalamus was found to be twice the size than those of homosexual males. His work has been replicated by other scientists and continues to this day.

        1. Midnighter 25 May 2013, 6:48pm

          And epi-genetics looks to be a factor too, again showing a physiological mechanism:

          Rice WR, Friberg U, Gavrilets S. Homosexuality as a consequence of epigenetically canalized sexual development. The Quarterly Review of Biology. Published [Online] 11 December 2012.

          There are also many related studies such as this one:
          that indicate the value and incidence of homsexuality nature, and thereby discount any question of it being ‘unnatural’ and something to be cured.

          1. I heard about this but never saw the research. Thanks for the link.

          2. Midnighter 25 May 2013, 7:24pm

            Link to the epigenetics article I mentioned above:


  7. I know the two authors mean well, but this article was pure unintentional comedy. It’s as if somebody paid them to use the most unctuous sanctimonious phony syrupy language imaginable. Yuck!

  8. I totally agree with both of them they are spot on the fight for LGBT people is still far from over and homophobia in schools and society is still a big issue even in Britain in 2013 and more needs to be done to challenge this and reduce it for future generations.

    Gay conversion therapy needs be addressed because it harms gay and bisexual people who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.

    For the Conservatives I guess they think that’s it now they have more or less equal rights but its not just about equal rights its about tackling prejudices and homophobia and transphobia so LGBT people can live normal decent lives without fear.

    I hope the next Labour government do pledge to try and tackle these issues of homophobic bullying in our schools and homophobia in wider society including transphobia and gay conversion therapy because these issues need to be challenged and I cannot see them being tackled by a Conservative government.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 25 May 2013, 4:53pm

      Conservative religious loons will play the religion card!

  9. Robert in S. Kensington 25 May 2013, 4:50pm

    Not one ex-gay ministry or psychotherapist has yet to demonstrate that an heterosexual man or woman can be converted to an homosexual orientation, excluding bisexuality. If they want any credibility, let them try it and provide the evidence. There has not been one study by any of them that has appeared in any of the mainstream medical and scientific literature. Surely, their methods should be able to work both ways. Until that has been achieved, their claims remain bogus, unfounded, medically and scientifically unproven and more importantly, extremely harmful to vulnerable gay people. To me it’s a scam to make money on people’s misery.

    1. David Pickup LMFT 25 May 2013, 6:27pm

      This is incorrect for two reasons. First, the peer-reviewed studies of Spitzer and Jones/Yarhouse concluded through evidence that change, although difficult, can occur. Besides this, there is much anecdotal evidence that change can occur. By the way, Gay affirmative therapists rest much of their conclusions, as do most therapists, on anecdotal evidence. For instance, it is amazing to see authentic change that happens to my clients with AUTHENTIC Reparative Therapy. See http://www.narth.com, “Shame and Attachment Loss,” by Dr. J. Nicolosi, and http://www.davidpickuplmft.com. My clients are truly changing, in varying degrees over various periods of time. To rob them of this opportunity is unethical and abusive. For many people, homosexuality is not inborn but has causes such as deep core identity Shame and unmet needs usually during the formative years in which gender and sexuality are first formed.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 25 May 2013, 6:40pm

        Joseph Nicolos represents a body pretending to be a scientific organisation, NARTH does NOT conduct original research. In the absence of producing data, this disgraceful group quotes obsolete studies and cherry picks the research of real scientists like Dr. Alan Schore who is on the clinical faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioural Sciences, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. He rebutted Nicolosi in a video saying…”Dr. Nicolosi, you know exactly what you are doing. This is a wilful misuse and distortion of my research. Not an academic disagreemnt. Not a slight shading of the truth. It’s wilfull distortion and, it’s illegitimate and it’s irresponsible and you know that, and you should stop.”

        It’s not the only time Nicolosi has been hauled over the coals for falsely misquoting scientists including some from the UK.

      2. Robert in S. Kensington 25 May 2013, 6:41pm

        Joseph Nicolos represents a body pretending to be a scientific organisation, NARTH does NOT conduct original research. In the absence of producing data, this disgraceful group quotes obsolete studies and cherry picks the research of real scientists like Dr. Alan Schore who is on the clinical faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioural Sciences, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. He rebutted Nicolosi in a video saying…”Dr. Nicolosi, you know exactly what you are doing. This is a willful misuse and distortion of my research. Not an academic disagreement. Not a slight shading of the truth. It’s willfull distortion and, it’s illegitimate and it’s irresponsible and you know that, and you should stop.”

        It’s not the only time Nicolosi has been hauled over the coals for falsely misquoting scientists including some from the UK.

      3. Didn’t Spitzer subsequently retract his study after condemnation from the APA and negative peer reviews of his data?

  10. David Pickup LMFT 25 May 2013, 6:21pm

    This article makes false and misleading statements.
    “…all the evidence suggests that they’re potentially consigning their patients to a painful spiral of self-abuse, self-doubt and self-criticism, possibly ending in suicide.”
    There is strong anecdotal and scientific evidence that some therapies do work for change, namely Reparative Therapy, see http://www.narth.com. Also, the APA has stated years ago that there is no Gay gene. For many people, homosexuality is NOT inborn and they experience change, but you want to shut their voices down.

    “But despite the fact that numerous professional organisations have condemned conversion therapy as ineffective and potentially harmful…”

    The formost therapeutic world organization, the APA, has not condemned this therapy, only these horrible aversion and shaming techniques.
    Patrick Strudwick acted dishonorably and imposed his hateful speech about Ms. Pilkington through deception. Pilkington was simply trying to help a religious person.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 25 May 2013, 6:44pm

    2. When did the APA say there was definitively no gay gene? The only mention I could find was from a pamphlet in 2008 that said:

      “Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors” http://www.apa.org/topics/sexuality/sorientation.pdf

      That was in 2008 though so it will be interesting to see how they respond to the discoveries pointed to by Robert in S. Kensington (above).

      On this issue of reparative therapy, I did notice the APA has this to say:

      “Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation”

      1. Midnighter 25 May 2013, 7:45pm

        Lies and misinformation David. Narth is a de facto hate group. An organisation of hypocrites such as George Rekers, he who famously had to resign from their “scientific” advisory committee for being caught out hiring a gay prostitute to go on holiday with him. Lol.

        Their science is bogus:
        “Dr. Lisa Diamond: ‘NARTH Distorted My Research’ ” = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64A2HrvYdYQ

        Exodus, another lovely ‘Gay cure” organisation:
        In 2012 the president of exodus Alan Chambers quit and stated that homosexuality can’t be cured.
        Two of its ex leaders quit and held a life commitment ceremony together (Bussee and Cooper)
        Leaders Bussee, Marks and Bogle came out in 2007 and apologised for their roles in curative therapy

        Other individuals – Anthony Venn Brown, Australian ex-gay therapist, renounced and apologised in 2007.
        Peterson Toscano, in ex-gay therapy for 17 years now runs a support group “beyond ex-gay”

        Conclusion: there is no cure, even those involved agree.

        1. Robert in S. Kensington 25 May 2013, 7:58pm

          Absolutely right and….some psychotherapists working for ex-gay ministries have also been caught sexually abusing their male clients.

    3. Commander Thor 25 May 2013, 9:07pm

      When will you be caught hiring a youngster from rentboy.com to “lift your luggage”?

      You should be jailed for false advertising.

  11. Jan Bridget 26 May 2013, 8:20am

    Well done Diana Johnson and Tom Stephens and the LGBT activists in Hull. It is crucial that this bill not only makes conversion therapy illegal but also ensures mental health professionals undergo training so that they can respond appropriately to support LGBT people to deal with their internalised homophobia/transphobia. A brilliant example of this in practise is the project at AllSorts LGBT youth group in Brighton where a member of the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service works with the group.
    Here is a link aimed at raising awareness for professionals (with free on-line training) http://www.galyic.org.uk/support/professionals.html and here is a link aimed at LGBTs: http://www.galyic.org.uk/support/mental.html

  12. Bans on cannabis smoking, abortions or gay sex never succeeded, they simply ended up going underground, resulting in a whole host of other problems as a result. A ban on “reparative” therapy is highly likely to have similar results, resulting in it being dominated by untrained amateurs who are even more blinkered by dogma than the current crop of counsellors.

    A more effective solution to the problem would be for reparative therapy to be recognised as a form of child abuse when the victim is under 18, and prosecuted accordingly. Those involved – the parents, minister, “counsellor”, and any other adults directly involved – would then be subject to the full suite of legal consequences, such as a ban on working with children or vulnerable adults.

    This would protect children from predatory fundamentalists, while ensuring freedom of religion for adults.

    1. Midnighter 26 May 2013, 1:05pm

      Well you are right in as much as this seems to be what has happened – the professional bodies have banned it as harmful and innappropriate, and it seems that those not belonging to those bodies are still able to peddle their quackery. What this is talking about is making it illegal to do so, so that should reduce it still further. As you say, it may well not eliminate it, but we’ve not got near the point of driving it ‘underground’ yet.

      I totally agree that legislation should recognise this as abuse, especially where minors are involved.

      Once it is illegal I would imagine this stigmatises it sufficiently that fundies will lose support for performing it, and ideally they’ll find themselves undergoing some “corrective therapy” of their own; in jail.

  13. This is a great article and the authors are spot on in highlighting this issue. I do think, however, that it is a bit naive on one front. I certainly have my reservations that the bill currently going through parliament represents “the end of a long process of a lifetime’s campaigning for marriage equality.” The thing is riddled with little Section 28-style clauses and opt-outs which must be addressed in the future if we are ever to have ‘marriage’ without any faux gender boundaries rather than just ‘gay marriage’ which is all this bill delivers. At best, it is a three-quater way house (Civil Partnerships being a half-way house). I’m not whinging at the authors of this great piece though, I am totally in favour of tougher regulation on so-called ‘conversion therapy’.

  14. peteHnchlife 28 May 2013, 11:21am

    The “therapist” mentioned is now using this article as evidence against equal marriage, using the thin end of the wedge argument. If anyone knows anything about this subject and would like to respond to her she is posting here.

    1. Thanks peter, I read your comments. I don’t know how you managed to stay so polite and restrained.

      Did you know though that WHO with the Pan American Health Organisation published a report against conversion therapy last year. Here’s the link:


      I know people who’ve undergone conversion therapy and I know how dangerous and damaging it is. No matter how well intentioned these therapists might be, they are a menace and bring their professions and faiths into disrepute.

      As for their protest outside parliament on the 3rd… If a prayer group of 80 people is the best that they’ve got then I say good luck to them.

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