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Psychologists back call for end to conversion therapy

21 October 2017

A memorandum of understanding against conversion therapy launched today has been signed by the President of the British Psychological Society.

The memorandum - you can read the full text on the UK Council for Psychotherapy webiste - makes it clear that conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation (including asexuality) is unethical, potentially harmful and is not supported by evidence. 

Conversion therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

The primary purpose of the memorandum is the protection of the public through a commitment to ending the practice of ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK.  It updates one released in 2015 at the Department of Health, which focused exclusively on sexual orientation, and is endorsed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charity Stonewall.

The memorandum also intends to ensure that:

  • The public are well informed about the risks of conversion therapy
  • Healthcare professionals and psychological therapists are aware of the ethical issues relating to conversion therapy
  • New and existing psychological therapists are appropriately trained
  • Evidence into conversion therapy is kept under regular review
  • Professionals from across the health, care and psychological professions work together to achieve the above goals.

Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses.

Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.

Nicola Gale, the President of the British Psychological Society, said:

“I am pleased to sign this memorandum of understanding on behalf of the British Psychological Society.

Our Society exists to make things better for people, and champions equality, diversity and inclusion in everything we do.

It is core to public protection that the public are made aware of the risk of ‘conversion therapies’ and that these therapies are unethical and unsupported by psychological evidence.  

Our Society is committed to ending this practice.”

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