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Gay man given electro shock therapy to ‘cure’ him of sexuality

Patrick Kelleher September 30, 2019
Gay man given electro shock therapy to 'cure' him of sexuality

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A gay man has revealed that he underwent electric shock therapy while a student at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in the 1960s in an attempt to “cure” his homosexuality.

The man spoke anonymously to BBC Northern Ireland about his ordeal and said that he was shown pictures of naked men and was given an electric shock if he was aroused.

“They would give me a shock and would continue giving me a shock every 15 or 30 seconds,” he said.

The man was willing to do anything to be ‘cured’ of homosexuality, including electric shock therapy.

The man went to Queen’s University after growing up in a small rural town in Northern Ireland and realised he was gay when he was 15. He said he felt “totally alone” as a young gay person.

He first approached his GP about his same-sex attraction who sent him for counselling. Later, when a student at QUB in the late 1960s, he was referred to the Department of Mental Health at the university to get rid of his same-sex attraction.

He said he was happy to do whatever he was told in an effort to be “cured” of his homosexuality.

It was there that he was shown images of naked men and would receive an electric shock to the feet when aroused. He found this “quite horrible” and later persuaded them to give the shocks in his hands instead.

They would continue giving me a shock until I pressed the button again to say I was no longer experiencing arousal.

He was tasked with pressing a button when he was sexually aroused by the images.

“When I pressed the button that meant I was aroused, then after 15 or 30 seconds if I didn’t press the button again they would give me a shock,” he told BBC NI.

“They would continue giving me a shock until I pressed the button again to say I was no longer experiencing arousal.”

Experience was ‘painful’ and ‘horrible’.

He described the experience as “painful” and “horrible”. He tried the treatment for up to two years before he decided to move on as his attraction to men had not waned.

Queen’s University Belfast said in a statement that they regretted the use of such aversion therapy and said there is “no scientific support” for it.

Conversion therapy is widely considered to be an extremely harmful brand of pseudoscience that tells LGBT+ people that their sexuality or gender identity can be changed.

In the UK, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies, as well as the NHS, have branded conversion therapy as dangerous and harmful.

More: Anti-gay, conversion therapy, Northern Ireland, queen's university belfast

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