An updated memorandum of understanding (MoU) against conversion therapy has been launched today, which 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 MoU is the protection of the public through a commitment to ending the practice of ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK. The MoU 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 MoU 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.
Helen Morgan, Chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council, said:
“Forcing a particular view or prejudice upon a patient has no place in therapy and all competent therapists will implicitly understand and appreciate this.
“Psychotherapy aims to liberate people so they can live fuller, more meaningful and more satisfying lives – and patients meeting a psychotherapist should be able to assume that this is always the case in therapy.
“I am pleased to support this updated Memorandum of Understanding against conversion therapy and I would urge professional colleagues – wherever they may be – to do the same.”
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said:
“Trans identities are not something to be ‘cured’ or changed. Stonewall is today delighted to join counselling and psychotherapy bodies across Britain to support a Memorandum of Understanding, which makes clear that any attempt to change a person’s gender identity through therapy is unethical. Trans people seeking support need to be accepted for who they are, not subjected to prejudice and harmful practice.”
The Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion therapy is signed by:
- Association of Christian Counsellors
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
- British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)
- British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)
- British Psychological Society (BPS)
- College of Sex and Relationship Therapists (COSRT)
- GLADD (The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists)
- National Counselling Society
- NHS England
- NHS Scotland
- Pink Therapy
- Royal College of General Practitioners
- UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
It is also supported by Stonewall.