The founder of Christian Concern has criticised a Labour MP for publishing a Private Members’ Bill aimed at banning gay-to-straight conversion therapy, saying it shows no “compassion for those individuals who feel, for a variety of reasons, they do not want to live a homosexual lifestyle”.
Barrister and evangelical activist Andrea Minichiello Williams said the bill would mean “vulnerable people would be forced to seek out back-street remedies for their unwanted feelings rather than having the freedom to consult professional counsellors.”
He said: “This damaging so-called treatment has traumatised many LGBT people over the years and it’s time Britain led the way in banning the therapy outright.”
The bill will receive its second reading on 24 January and has the support of Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs.
“This is a bill without any compassion for those individuals who feel, for a variety of reasons, they do not want to live a homosexual lifestyle,” Ms Williams said.
“These are men and women who would be condemned to a lifestyle that makes them desperately unhappy and be prevented from finding proper help.
“Vulnerable people would be forced to seek out back-street remedies for their unwanted feelings rather than having the freedom to consult professional counsellors.
“The irony of this bill is that it claims to stop people being ‘forced to change their sexual identity from homosexual to straight’. But the reality is that for very many people who do have same-sex attraction, their sexuality is not fixed, and is certainly not their total identity in life.
“This is a bullying piece of legislation which tells vulnerable people they must live a gay life – by law.”
In November, during a Westminster Hall debate on the subject, Health Minister Norman Lamb proclaimed gay-to-straight conversion to be “utterly abhorrent”, but stated that the UK Government was still opposed to statutory regulation of therapists due to cost implications.
Labour MP Sandra Osborne, who had requested the debate, mentioned a 2009 survey of 1,328 accredited mental health professionals who had operated in the sector before 2001. The surveyed showed 17% of practitioners readily admitted to having assisted at least one client to reduce their same-sex attraction. Some 35% of patients therapists described were referred to them for treatment by general practitioners, and 40% were reported as actually being treated inside an NHS practice.
Ms Williams also defended Jamaica’s anti-gay legislation.