Doctors declare 'gay cure' therapies harmful

  Page: 1

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 5, 2010, 14:19

Doctors declare ‘gay cure’ therapies harmful

By Staff Writer, • July 2, 2010 – 11:31

The annual meeting of the British Medical Association has declared that therapies to ‘cure’ gay people of homosexuality are harmful.

The body met in Brighton yesterday and more than two-thirds of doctors present backed a call for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other mental health standard-setting bodies to reject the treatments and ban their use in codes of practice.

Health departments should also investigate alleged cases of conversion therapy being funded by the NHS, the meeting agreed.

Research published last year found that a sixth of registered British therapist and psychiatrists have attempted to “cure” patients of homosexuality.

Tom Dolphin, the proposer of the motion and the vice-chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, said: “Sexuality is such a fundamental part of who a person is that attempts to change it just result in significant confusion, depression and even suicide.

“You can’t just wish away same-sex attraction no matter how inconvenient it might be.”

But Cardiff consultant neurophysiologist Gareth Payne said there was no “gold standard” evidence that conversion therapy did not work and was harmful.

He added that it was important to respect the wishes of patients who asked for the therapy.

Earlier this year, gay journalist Patrick Strudwick published an expose of ‘ex-gay’ therapists and began a campaign group to persuade medical bodies to condemn the treatments.

He 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.

Mr Strudwick told the Independent that the BMA’s declaration was a “watershed moment in the struggle for gay equality”.

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
July 6, 2010, 08:39

Thank God the BMA are coming on board and encouraging other mental health bodies to also reject conversion ‘therapies’.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 6, 2010, 13:01

Actually I wrote about this when I was in the UK last year.

A Wake Up Call

Anthony Venn-Brown

01 April 2009

Research reveals that some therapists still offer to ‘cure’ homosexuality. But, as Anthony Venn-Brown writes, helping gay and lesbian patients become heterosexual has no place in the mental health sector.

A UK report last week revealed that one sixth of therapists surveyed have helped at least one client to reduce gay or lesbian feelings. Of those, 72 per cent said clients should get a chance to redirect their feelings. This is a frightening revelation considering that in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders.

In the GLBT community I think we are often lulled into a false sense of reality, naively believing that because we are ‘out’ and gained many aspects of legal equality, all is now well for gays and lesbians. This simply is not true.

In 2006 the ‘ex-gay’ movement pressured the APA to encourage client self-determination. In other words, if a client came to a therapist and said they wanted to turn from gay to straight, the therapist was obligated to work with that desire. Dr. Koocher, President of the APA, had to issue a statement, clearly defining once again, that homosexuality is not a disorder and therapists should explore why the person was distressed about their same-sex attraction. And also inform them that there is no scientific evidence that change is possible and that attempts to do so are harmful.

Even though we don’t have data about what is happening in the mental health professional world in Australia regarding attitudes towards homosexuality, I have no reason to doubt that our situation is similar to the UK and USA experience.

Considering that psychiatry and psychology are regulated professions, how can they allow their members to continue outdated, disproved and damaging practices? These events remind us that there are many areas still to be addressed both with those seeking therapy and the therapists themselves.

Australia and the UK now have enormously diverse cultural populations. Therapists and clients come from backgrounds that view heterosexuality as ‘normal’ and homosexuality as perverse. One UK therapist was quoted as saying: “Although homosexual feelings are usual in people, their physical expression, and being a person’s only way of having sexual relations is problematic. The physical act for male homosexuals is physically damaging and is the main reason in this country for HIV/AIDS. It is also perverse”.

Some cultures still have forms of arranged marriages and enormous family pressure to conform. To come out would mean rejection from the family. This level of distress causes people to seek change.

Whilst some areas of Christianity and Judaism have realised that homosexuality is not a sin or choice other religions are lagging behind; some are still in the dark ages of imprisonment or the death penalty for homosexuals.

Geographic location of the client and/or the therapist can also be another factor as revealed in a comment from the research: “The individuals I have worked with have all been very unhappy about their sexuality and wish they were heterosexual. This has been because of responses from friends, family and the local community – which outside London is still very homophobic”.

Unfortunately being ‘the only gay in the village’ is not as funny as Little Britain makes out, if you go to your local mental health professional you’ll end up worse off.

Anthony Venn-Brown is a life coach, author of A Life of Unlearning and co-convenor of Freedom 2 b[e].

  Page: 1
WP Forum Server by ForumPress | LucidCrew
Version: 99.9; Page loaded in: 0.025 seconds.