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An end to conversion therapy

16 July 2018 | by Guest

The following article has been written by Lyndsey/Igi Moon, Chair of the Coalition against Conversion Therapy.

On Wednesday 4th July, the Coalition against Conversion Therapy held a parliamentary reception to launch their latest Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy.

The event was hosted by Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw MP and the speakers were Baroness Williams (Minister for Equalities), Crispin Blunt (Secretary, APPG on LGBT rights), and myself.

As Chair of the Coalition, I spoke on behalf of the 16 signatory organisations that have signed the latest MoU, with a commitment to end the practice of ‘Conversion Therapy’ in the UK. Together we represent over 100, 000 psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors and healthcare workers.

The main purpose of the launch was for MP’s, Peers and Government officials to meet with clinicians and campaigners ahead of the Government’s pledge to ‘end the practice of Conversion Therapy’.

The day before our launch, the Government released the findings of their LGBT National survey.

With 108,100 respondents, it was the largest of its kind in the world and is something all LGBT people can be proud of. But while we celebrate this success, we need to be mindful about the findings and what they say about LGBT lives in our society.

Some findings make very uncomfortable reading. They tell a story that is all too familiar to LGBT people who still experience significant inequalities and fear for their personal safety – inequalities and fears that may well take them to see therapists.

This is why, as a Coalition, we want all clinicians in training and practice to be made aware of the range of issues presented in the survey. And for all clinicians to be able to work competently with LGBT people. It is central that LGBT people can explore their feelings and thoughts in safety - whether or not it is about their sexuality and/or gender identity - with a qualified psychologist, psychotherapist, counsellor, or healthcare worker.

The Coalition published their MoU before the Survey results were announced, as they were aware of the mounting anecdotal evidence that we needed to protect sexual orientation, including asexuality and the variety of gender identities. The survey’s findings show that sadly this anecdotal evidence is correct, with 5% of respondents having been offered Conversion Therapy and a further 2% having undergone it.

During the reception, Baroness Williams (Minister for Equalities) outlined the government’s Action Plan and its importance in improving the lives of LGBT people. There are 75 commitments including appointing a national LGBT adviser and bringing forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy by considering all legislative and non-legislative options.

At present, as a Coalition, we say no to an outright ban because Conversion Therapy is conducted by people who are obviously not therapists and in some cases would not call what they do anything more than a cure for an illness. It needs more than a ban – it requires education from a young age. This will allow young people to be who they are without fear.

Likewise, it is still possible in this country to call yourself a counsellor or psychotherapist, as these are not protected titles.  We believe that the Government must address this issue.

The government are counting on the Coalition’s engagement to achieve change and, at the reception, we pledged to work together to investigate all legislative and non-legislative options to end Conversion Therapy.

We will keep you updated with our progress!

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