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Gay journalist receives award nod for ‘gay cure’ expose

Jessica Geen June 7, 2010
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A gay journalist who underwent ‘gay cure’ therapy to expose the therapists who practise it has been nominated for a mental health’s charity’s media awards.

Patrick Strudwick, whose work appeared in the Independent in February, is one of six writers shortlisted for the Mind Journalist of the Year Award 2010.

The charity’s award, now in its 17th year, rewards excellence in reporting on mental health issues.

Mr Strudwick went undercover for the article, telling two therapists he was struggling to cope with attraction to men and wanted to be straight.

One therapist, named only as Linda, tried to convince him he must have been sexually abused as a child by a member of his family.

The other, who later revealed was homophobic former Northern Ireland MP Iris Robinson’s advisor, tried to make Mr Strudwick sexually aroused during his therapy.

Mainstream health experts say such therapy is usless at best and at worst can seriously damage mental health.

Mr Strudwick told he saw it as “extremely encouraging” that Mind was recognising work on gay issues.

He said: “Given that the British government did not strike homosexuality off its list of psychiatric disorders until 1993, the fact that Mind, Britain’s biggest, most respected and highest profile mental health charity is, in 2010, recognising my work exposing the scandalous practices of British psychiatrists and psychotherapists who claim they can make you heterosexual shows just how far the medical establishment has come in such a short space of time.

“I am thrilled and honoured to be shortlisted for this award. Mind do exceptionally important work on very limited means.

“I hope that their recognition of the abuses and lies inherent in attempts to ‘cure’ people of their sexuality makes everyone – the NHS, the Royal College of Psychiatry and all psychotherapy organisations – take all necessary steps to stamp out these malevolent practices once and for all.”

Since writing the article, Mr Strudwick has become a campaigner against so-called reparative therapy and has organised protests at religious conventions which recommended the treatment.

He is also calling on the government to tighten regulations on gay cure therapists.

He said: “I call on the new coalition government to do three things: a) introduce regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists as quickly as possible; b) introduce new NHS guidelines stating that anyone found to be attempting to alter someone’s sexual orientation will be sacked and c) give all those in the NHS working with patients LGBT specific training.”

Mind’s head of media Alison Kerry said: “Issues covered by this years’ shortlist range from mental health at work to debate around regulating counselors and psychotherapists and it is heartening to see that so many journalists recognise that mental health encompasses many facets of life and is not just as a ‘health’ issue.”

The Mind Journalist of the Year will be announced at a ceremony on Thursday July 8th.

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