Current Affairs

I was given electric shocks on the NHS in the 1970s to ‘cure’ my sexual orientation

July 24, 2014
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A Birmingham man has spoken of his deep regret at undergoing gay ‘cure’ therapy on the NHS in the 1970s.

The 69-year-old, described as “John”, told BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Victoria Derbyshire: “I’m going to pass from this life without ever having a full relationship with a human being.”

The victim spoke of how a young GP told him that he had found a “cure” for being gay in the 1970s.

“In my innocence I thought ‘hey that sounds pretty good’ so I went along with it”.

Asked to describe the ‘cure’, John replied: “It was a variation of aversion therapy called ‘avoidance therapy’. It involved showing photographs of men, photographs of women, and giving the person a series of electric shocks.”

He continued: “But also giving you an element of choice, so if your saw a picture of a male and you rejected that, then there was a fighting chance that you would avoid the electric shock.”

Reflecting on the therapy John said: “It gave me very false hope”.

“It was never ever going to kick in, it was never ever going to work, [and] the whole thing has been a failure”.

He went on to say: “I still feel very disappointed because it means as a consequence I am going to pass through this life without ever having a full relationship with a human being.

“And that is a matter of deep regret,” he added: “Perhaps in the grand plans of things it is not ‘that’ horrendous, I have a wonderful friendship with my wife – but it’s never been a complete relationship, and nor can it be or ever will be.”

John said that he had only come to terms with his sexual orientation “fifteen years ago”.

Care Minister, Norman Lamb, said homosexuality was “not an illness” and should never be treated as such, which is why he strongly opposed such treatment and would never fund it with public money.

Mr Lamb has ruled out the statutory regulation of psychotherapists in order to prevent doctors from referring patients to therapists who may seek to provide the treatment.

He favours instead a “voluntary register” for psychotherapists.

Earlier this year, Labour MP Geraint Davies published a Private Members’ Bill in Parliament aimed at banning the practice by regulating the psychotherapy sector.

Related topics: Birmingham, England, gay conversion therapy, gay cure, gay cures, gay-to-straight conversion therapy, NHS

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