BPC Statement on the Conversion Therapy Ban Proposals
On behalf of the psychoanalytic profession, as a signatory to the MOU Coalition, we have welcomed government’s recognition of the need to protect vulnerable individuals against coercive practices, or any type of therapy that seeks to oppress someone based on their sexuality or gender. We remain very clear ourselves that any legislation to bring about a ban must cover gender as well as sexuality. It is essential everyone should feel free and safe to express their sexuality and gender identity without fear of intimidation or discrimination.
We have been dismayed to learn in recent days that part of the justification being used for the government’s apparent change of direction is that exploratory therapies that seek to maintain clinical equipoise – the very therapies that psychoanalytic practitioners have expertise in – will allegedly be at risk of being impacted negatively by a ban that covers gender as well as sexuality. We have previously sought and received very clear reassurances in writing on this from Minister Mike Freer and his officials. It is unclear to us now whether government considers exploratory therapy is somehow incompatible with a ban providing protection from harmful “conversion therapy” for gender?
The process of safe exploration of gender and sexual identity in talking therapy, and support for each individual’s right to expression of their unique self, should continue to be a mainstay of mental health services that promote our public wellbeing. We have called on government for publicly funded talking therapies to be better resourced to accompany implementation of a ban. Whilst we note the recent clarification that further work will be undertaken, we believe that including gender alongside sexuality in a ban will carry no real risk of ethical exploratory therapy being misconstrued as an alleged form of “conversion therapy”. We are happy to meet with Ministers and officials to provide our professional advice on how such a ban can be achieved. In the meantime, we believe government should provide the right reassurance to reaffirm its plans to protect all who may be vulnerable to this “abhorrent practice” from harm.