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  1. Winter 1984 It was a cold and grey winter’s day. The grey sky seemed to hang heavy over everything, stripping away what little colour was left in that winter landscape. I had travelled across Merseyside, on my own, that morning to make this appointment. I’d needed to change trains in the centre of Liverpool, changing from one metro train onto another one in one of the few underground stations in the city. That second train took me under the River Mersey and out into the suburban area of the Wirral. Once I had arrived at the station, I left the train and waited outside. I’d been nervous throughout that journey. I had arranged this appointment, I couldn’t not keep it, not to turn up was not acceptable, but I was so nervous about keeping it. Now, waiting out on the pavement, my nerves had ramped up to another level. Was this going to help me? And what if I was attracted to him? How could I manage that? I was eighteen and that summer I had left college but without the qualifications for my then planned career (which, with hindsight, I wouldn’t have been happy in). I was unemployed with so much time on my hands (it was the 1980s and with the high unemployment rates in Liverpool I didn’t stand much of a chance of finding a job). I was facing up to so many different things about myself but facing that slow realisation on my own. I’d learnt that people didn’t want to hear my problems, the ones I wasn’t too ashamed to share. I had seen the advert, months ago, tucked away in the back of a Christian youth magazine in which all the articles were written by adults. I had kept that magazine, securely hidden amongst a pile of other old magazines. The text of that advert was simple: “HOMOSEXUALITY. There is a positive alternative to the homosexual lifestyle through Christ.” The wording leapt out at me, there was a Christian answer to my problem, to the thing I would never dare to ask anyone about. Since puberty, I’d had the growing realisation that I was homosexual (back then I couldn’t bring myself to say I was gay, that was going too far). I was in so much denial about my sexuality and at every chance I tried to push it down and deny that it was even there, it was all so tiring. Since an early teenager I had been a member of an Evangelical Christian church, our local Anglican church. I worked so hard at being a good Christian, and good Christians were certainly not homosexual, or so I believed. I knew being homosexual meant I was condemned to hell, it was there at church, that belief, that certainty, and I had breathed it into my very soul and believed it all. I was a virgin then, I hadn’t even kissed another boy, I had certainly not held another boy’s hand, but I knew that just my desire to do so condemned me to hell. I wanted saving from that, I couldn’t just be sent to hell for something I had no control over, could I? Then I saw that advert, from an organisation called True Freedom Trust (TFT), who called themselves a “Teaching/Counselling Ministry” and gave a post office box address in The Wirral, not far from where I lived. It had taken me weeks, and screwing up all the courage I had, to write to TFT, sending them a stamped-and-addressed envelope. When it returned, I read the handful of leaflets it contained cover to cover and all over again before carefully hiding them away, I didn’t want my mother finding them. They came with a letter offering me the chance to meet someone from TFT for counselling. Again it took me weeks to screw-up my courage, but eventually I wrote back to them and asked to meet for counselling. That was how I ended up standing there on the pavement, outside that Wirral train station, waiting. I was waiting for HM, from TFT. I was meeting him for counselling. A car pulled up at the curbside there, it was HM. He was a thin, middle-aged man with a five-o’clock shadow so thick on his chin that he looked like he already needed to shave. But the thing that struck me so hard about him was how careworn and miserable he was, no joy came from him. Even when he shook my hand, he seemed so unhappy, the handshake so slight and quick. I had feared that I could be attracted to him, but his joyless personality was so unattractive. We drove to the TFT’s office, housed in a local Anglican church. There HM told me the TFT theology. They did not believe that being homosexual, on its own, was a sin, but any sexual expression of it was. The sin was in the act. All I had to do to avoid hell was to remain celibate, never have sex with another man. Hearing this was such a relief, this was my fire escape out of hell and I could so easily do it. I was young, a virgin, and had never had a relationship, would I ever miss something I’d never had? I was so grateful to HM; I was saved from hell and it came at a low price. We then talked about the leaflets HM had sent me. Three of them were testimonies, short biographies, from men who had “turned away” from the homosexual lifestyle and become heterosexual, all three men finished their stories by saying they were getting married to a woman. When I mentioned these, HM’s face lit up and we talked about them. He saw me as perfect candidate for this change; I was young, innocent and had never wanted to be homosexual. I listened to what he said and drank it all in. The fire escape could lead to paradise, or so it seemed. I left the TFT’s office believing everything I had been told. It was such a physical relief; I wasn’t going to hell, I just had to follow a few rules and I could change and be free. I had been so terrified of my sexuality, seeing it as something I had no power over but which was destroying me from within. Now there was a way of escaping that damnation. At first it was all so easy, I’d not had a relationship so being celibate did not seem a great sacrifice, especially as it would save my soul. I was still deeply closeted but I was living in an environment that was not safe to come out into. The Evangelical church I was a member of was homophobic; that homophobia was covert rather than overt, but I could still read it plainly. I saw HM on a sort of regular basis. At first, we met in the TFT office and we would talk about TFT theology; in reality, I would say something and he would tell me what I needed to do. Like so much of Evangelical Christianity, he always had an answer for me; he always knew what I had to do. It was never him asking me questions and helping me to find out what I wanted to do, he just told me what I had to do. Then HM offered me “healing of the memories” as a way to “heal” me and turn me heterosexual. I readily agreed. I was now desperate for “change” and “healing” in my life. I still hated my sexuality; I still wanted it out of my life, so this offer seemed like another fire escape, a way out of my own personal hell. “Healing of the memories” consisted of me lying on a sofa and HM, after he’d prayed over me for God to open my mind and my memories, would sit at the head of sofa, on a wooden chair, and “guide” me through reliving painful/traumatic memories. The first memory he had me relive was my birth. I lay back on the sofa, HM prayed over me for God to open up my memories, I closed my eyes and nothing came into my mind. I remembered nothing about my birth and I panicked. I wasn’t being faithful to God, there was something wrong with me, God wasn’t opening up my memories, I had angered God, and HM would be upset and angry at me. So my wonderful imagination kicked in and I made up a narrative of my own birth there and then. I imagined that I was a forceps delivery and that I didn’t want to be born, I didn’t want to pulled out of the warm and safe place I had been living in; I was scared and afraid of this bright and cold world I was being pulled into. All very dramatic and all very indicative of my mental health back then. (Years later, I would find out that I was a caesarean birth. What I said back then was just fiction, no miracle of me suddenly finding a lost memory) I met HM regularly for “Healing of the memories”, about once a month, for the next six months. Always he would have me “relive” a memory where my father had let me down or my mother had taken control of something, telling me what I had to do. Always HM told me that this would “repair” my relationship with my parents and “heal” me. (With the benefit of time and hindsight, I am now deeply suspicious of HM’s motives with which memories he guided me to relive. Always they would be ones where my father let me down, where my father was weak, and where my mother was taking control and telling me what to do, my mother being dominant. There is an old and discredited theory called Learned Behaviour. It states that a man is gay because his father is weak and/or absent and his mother is strong and dominant [Back in 1984, Learned Behaviour just plainly ignored lesbians, bisexual people and trans people, but it is a very pathetic and untrue theory.] I am now almost certain HM was pushing me towards that theory. The irony is that I had two very strong-willed and dominant parents, neither one was weak) At the time, I didn’t have any of this insight and HM’s “counselling” only reinforced to me that my parents were to “blame” for my sexuality, to blame for the misery I was living in. It drove a wedge between me and my parents, damaging an already difficult relationship. Now I am ashamed of the way I behaved towards them, but back then I was deeply closeted and being told to blame my parents for it, and I did so because I knew nothing else. But none of this “counselling” was working. There was no change in my sexuality, if anything it was becoming more dominant in my mind. I would see handsome men everywhere and be attracted to them. I had started having crushes on some men I knew. This all left me feeling deeply ashamed and guilty. Wasn’t my sexuality supposed to be changing? Wasn’t I supposed to be leaving behind the temptation of my homosexuality? But I wasn’t. I would lie awake at night and beg God to turn me straight, but there was no change. What was I doing wrong? Why wasn’t God listening to me? Was I to be condemned to this cold and lonely living for the rest of my life? Why had God stopped loving me? Or had God never loved me in the first place? I now know I was suffering from depression, but at the time it seemed that I was living in my own personal hell. That fire escape had not worked, but I was still struggling to walk up it, it was the only option I thought I had and it was destroying me. My mother sent me to my GP because of the insomnia and extremely low energy levels I had. My GP said I was depressed, something I couldn’t/wouldn’t hear. Bible-believing Christians didn’t get depressed because that was against God’s will, or so I believed. He prescribed me tranquillisers. I only took them because my mother expected me to. One morning, I woke up and got dressed and then sat down on the edge of my bed. I was alone in the house, both my parents were at work, and suddenly it was all too much for me. I took my morning tranquilliser and then I took another one. Coldly, I carried on taking them; I would overdose on them and finally stop all this pain. My rather tight gag-reflex stepped in, though, and I choked on the third pill. It caught in my throat and I coughed and coughed and then retched and then I spat the pill back up again. I wept because I had been so stupid and weak, or so I felt. I had been feeling suicidal for months before that but it had never gone beyond just thoughts. Each time I would dwell on the idea of suicide, the idea of ending all of this pain and misery, and then another thought would jump into my mind. If I killed myself that was a sin and I’d go straight to hell for it, and I was terrified of hell. That fear kept the act of suicide to a mere thought and desire, and not too well of a constructed plan, but that morning I acted on that desire. It terrified me what I could actually do, how much I could physically harm myself, and I told no one. They would think I was crazy, I was mad, I was worse, and how could they understand? They would say it was because I was homosexual. I certainly couldn’t tell HM, he talked so much about change and leaving the “homosexual lifestyle”. But I was also finding it harder and harder to hide my symptoms of depression. Being celibate was such a lonely existence. I was keeping everyone at arm’s length because I feared that intimacy would lead to sin, and I feared they would find out the truth, but I hated being so lonely too. I saw HM for a little over eighteen months, but it was during the last six months that everything seemed to spiral out of control. Firstly, the organist of my church was expelled for being gay. It was discovered that his close friend was actually his male lover and they were told not to attend our church anymore. When this happened, I told HM about it, I was so shocked and afraid. These people, the people who called themselves my “Christian family”, had Nicholas and his partner thrown out of our church without an apparent second thought. HM told me that Nicholas wasn’t a Christian, he was just someone who enjoyed the social life of being a member of a church, he liked the friends he made at church, so it was an act of Christian discipline to expel him and therefore it was right. (A couple of years later, I learnt that this simply wasn’t true, HM hadn’t been honest with me) Next the curate, at my church, preached a sermon supporting James Anderton’s homophobia and told me that anyone who was homosexual was condemned to hell for their “choice” to be homosexual. He made no distinction between the orientation and sexual activity, he condemned it all. I didn’t tell HM about this because I felt so betrayed; here was a minister of the church I attended, a man I looked up to, condemning me from the pulpit, and he didn’t even known it was me he was condemning. Then I was outed at church and quickly after that I had daemons cast out of me, for being gay, at the church’s youth fellowship. The betrayal of those actions cut deep within me. It didn’t stop there though. So many people in the youth fellowship told me they knew why I was gay; they all seemed to have a theory about my sexuality. I was told I was gay because I had a strong-willed mother, because I had a strong-willed father, because I was “confused” about my masculinity, because I was a woman “trapped” in a man’s body, because I was possessed by daemons, because the devil was sitting on my shoulder and whispering “lies” in my ear saying that I was gay, because I hadn’t met the “right” woman … and so many more theories, and none of them based on anything I had said. None of them reflected any element of me, but all of them showed how little those people knew me. At first all these different theories were almost comical, but soon they started to hurt. No one was offering me acceptance, instead I was seen as a “problem” that needed solving. But quickly people began to pull away from me, drop me and end our friendships because they knew I was gay. Almost overnight, it felt like I lost almost all my friends and was pushed to the very fringes of church life. That hurt so deeply. Now I was physically lonely as well as emotionally lonely. I turned to the only person I thought would help me. I went to see HM and told him about everything that was happening to me—the daemons being cast out of me, the list of theories as to why I was gay, and about losing almost all my friends. I expected HM to support me, to offer help and advice about what I should do next, to show he cared. I was wrong. HM started by saying that homosexuality can be caused by demonic possession. He then went on to tell me there was a lot of “truth” in all those theories people had about why I was gay. As I listened to him, it was as if scales fell away from my eyes and I saw HM for what he was. He wasn’t there to support me; he was justifying my church’s homophobia. He was doing that for the wider Evangelical Church too. He wasn’t there to challenge the Church’s homophobia; he was there to support the status quo by presenting the “acceptable” face of homosexuality to the Evangelical Church. He was a sad, sexless, gay man who was punishing himself with celibacy as the price to be allowed within the Evangelical Church, but never to be allowed to be a full member. He was so pathetic, it was horrible and repulsive to realise. And I had followed him. I made positive noises and said positive things in reply to what he said, but I didn’t believe a word of it. I just wanted to get out of that office as quickly as I could. I never went back to HM and TFT after that day; I knew they didn’t care about me. They cared about being the “acceptable” homosexuals for the Evangelical Church and they wanted to force me into that mould. They hadn’t cared about helping and supporting me, and I had desperately needed that. I wish I could say the hurt and damage stopped the day I walked away from them, but it didn’t because so often the damage doesn’t stop when the abuse does. POSTSCRIPT: At present, the British government has a proposal to ban conversion therapy, though there is still no date for when the bill will come before parliament. There are two exceptions in the proposal. It will not cover anyone over eighteen who consents to have conversion therapy and will not cover gender identify, so trans people at any age can be subjected to it. If this bill had been law in 1984 it wouldn’t have protected me because I was eighteen when I first went to TFT, and I went to them; therefore, I consented to it. Drew Find the next story in this series here
  2. My government has let me down, again. Am I of any value to them? They certainly don’t seem concerned about me. They made me a promise, told me to wait and wait, but never kept it and now… In July 2018 prime minister Theresa May promised to ban conversion therapy. In 2019, Boris Johnson repeated the pledge during that year’s general election campaign. Yet here we are, November 2023, and again there is no sign of the promised ban. This month’s King’s Speech, were the government outlines the legalisation they plan to present to parliament, saw no mention of banning conversion therapy, so it remains completely legal to carry on abusing LGBTQ+ people in the name of conversion therapy. I’ve made no secret that I survived conversion therapy, in my late teens, but the harm didn’t end when I broke away from it. I suffered from depression, flashbacks, problems accepting my sexuality and severe difficulties making and keeping relationships throughout my twenties. I lost my twenties to the depression caused by the emotional abuse I just couldn’t shake off. It wasn’t until I was twenty-eight, and a wonderful counsellor called Gale Simon helped me put my life back together. “I refuse to acknowledge that so-called ‘conversion therapy’ is therapy in any way. It is mental and physical abuse. Some would call it torture,” said 76-year-old transgender woman Carolyn Merce. And she is right, she lived throw it. But it isn’t just personal stories, like hers and mine. There is a great deal of evidence that conversion therapy doesn’t work, and actually harms people. A brief literature search, of two peer reviewed medical journal databases, on a Sunday afternoon, and I found ten references that conversion therapy doesn’t work and sixteen references that it causes harm. This was by no means a comprehensive search, I am certain that there is a far bigger pool of evidence of the harm it causes and its complete ineffectiveness. Why hasn’t it been banned yet, as we were promised? Brazil, Samoa, Fiji, Argentina, Ecuador, Malta, Uruguay, Spain, Taiwan and Germany have all banned it, so why hasn’t Britain? Earlier this year, Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons, said that draft legislation would be published before the end of that parliamentary session. That parliamentary session ended and we are now in a new one, but no ban was put before parliament. In September, a spokesperson for No 10, the seat of British government, refused to say if the government had plans to ban it. Then loud rumours came out that the government had dropped plans for any ban. A government press release about the King’s Speech, issued on 4th November, made no mention of a conversion therapy ban. By many this was taken as an indication of the government’s plans, and they were proved right. On 7th November, King Charles delivered the government’s King’s Speech and there was no mention of a conversion therapy ban, again. “I am angered but sadly not surprised by the government’s decision to drop a ban on conversion practices. The prime minister has shown a callous disregard for LGBT+ lives of late and has chosen to prioritise listening to perpetrators over that of engaging with victims of abuse.” Jayne Ozanne, founder of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition. It quickly became clear the Tory Back Bench MP Miriam Cates had been lobbying other Tory MPs for prime minister Rishi Sunak to drop the ban. Her texts to fellow MPs claimed that the ban would “criminalise” parents and doctors who “council” children against changing gender. She also claimed that the ban will “split” the Conservative party and “anger” their base. Both claims were not backed by any evidence but 40 Tory MPs signed her letter. There are 350 Conservative MPs in Parliament, which means only 11.4% supported Cates, but Sunak gave into her claims. Miriam Cates is a notoriously Anti-Trans Evangelical Christian. She wrote an article claiming, again without any evidence, that banning conversion therapy will stop parents and doctors from helping “confused young peopl. However, conversion therapists prey on confused people, not helping them but damaging them, as the evidence shows. But Cates’s views are also shared by the Evangelical Alliance, who says they represent 3,500 churches, and argue a ban would restrict “religious freedoms”. More and more though, the support for conversion therapy is disappearing, especially as the truth of it emerges. The Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of General Practitioners have also called for a ban, both of whom promote evidence based healthcare. While the UK Council for Psychotherapy said of it: “Exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses.” The Equality and Human Rights Commission says legislation outlawing conversion therapy is overdue. Their chair, Baroness Kishwer Falkner, wrote to Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, stating the legislation "is needed". The Church of England’s General Synod called for the government to ban it, in 2017, after hearing experiences of “spiritual abuse” practiced in the name of conversion therapy. John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, said conversion therapy was “theologically unsound, so the sooner the practice is banned, I can sleep at night”. And more than 370 religious leaders, around the world, are calling for a ban on conversion therapy. But isn’t it a practice only abusing a small number of people? The Government’s own research found 7% of LGBTQ+ people have experienced some type of conversion practice. While the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition’s online survey, of the LGBTQ community, found 40% of respondents said they had undergone some form of it. Would any other form of “therapy” that abused people to the degree that conversion practice does, with zero success rate, be even tolerated? A YouGov poll found 62% of voters wanted the ban, a fact that any government facing a General Election should be taking notice of, but not this one. Rishi Sunak seems to be more interested in listening to a small minority of his MPs, 11.4%, then medical and church bodies and a large percentage of voters. Fortunately, there has been an outcry, in parliament, against this broken promise. Labour has promised to ban conversion therapy, with no acceptations, when they get back into government. On 7th October, Labour MP Anneliese Dodds, the chairwoman of the Labour Party, promised to ban conversion therapy, with “no loopholes”, if Labour are in power after the next general election. But Labour are still in opposition and there isn’t a hope for a general election until next year. The has also been an outcry from within the Tory party. “We’re looking at every possible opportunity and we’re definitely not going to let this drop,” said Tory MP Elliot Colburn in reply to the ban being dropped. This isn’t surprising. Only 40 Tory MPs signed that letter to Rishi Sunak and there are large and public divisions within the Tory party. But why weren’t Colburn and his supporters lobbying Sunak while they were writing the King’s Speech? A letter signed by only 40 Tory MPs swayed Sunak’s mind. On Thursday 9th November, two days after the King’s Speech, a bipartisan Private Member’s Bill to ban conversion therapy, the “Conversion Therapy Prohibition (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)” bill, was announced. It was drawn first that day in the House of Lords ballot. It was introduced by the vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, Baroness Burt of Solihull. The bill would set a blanket ban on conversion therapy. There will finally be a debate in parliament about banning conversion therapy but I don’t see this Private Member’s Bill going further than that. The Parliamentary session 2019-21, saw 192 Private Members’ Bills put before parliament, but only 7 received royal assent, became law. That is only 3.6% of Private Members’ Bills became law. The vast majority failed because they didn’t make it past the second reading stage. In a normal Parliamentary year, thirteen Fridays are allocated for debates of Private Members’ Bills, which take place between the 9.30am and 2.30pm. Even if a Bill is approved at Second Reading, MPs second debate of the bill, the progress beyond that to it becoming law is not guaranteed because the Government can veto it by refusing to introduce a Money Resolution or a Ways and Means Resolution, were the impact on the public themselves and the public purse is assessed. Unfortunately, there is very little chance this Private Members’ Bill will become law. This Tory government has already dropped the promise to ban it, why would they support a Private Members’ Bill banning it? The only chance of getting a legal ban on conversion therapy is to wait for a Labour government, which is probably a year away, and even then, will it be an immediate priority for them? They will have an economy that is in free-fall, under resourced public services, with poor staff morale, that are failing to meet targets, and a cost-of-living crisis effecting all but the rich. Will banning conversion therapy be top of their list of laws to get through parliament? I cannot turn back the clock and prevent my younger self becoming sucked into conversion therapy, I cannot change or prevent the hurt and abuse I suffered, and nor will a ban of conversion therapy do this. What it will do is prevent young and/or vulnerable LGBTQ people being abused and damaged in the name of conversion therapy, it will stop other LGBTQ people being driven to suicide because of what happened to them during conversion therapy. It will stop other people living through the nightmare that I did, and that thought gives me so much hope and relief. I want that to happen tomorrow, but again this government has let me down and ignored me, and there will be no ban in the near future. Alan Cumming, actor and writer, said: “It’s not just about banning conversion therapy, it’s about sending a message to young queer people that their government does not believe there’s anything wrong with them, and that they have no need to convert or change. Until conversion therapy is banned, the UK government is sending a message that it is inherently homophobic.” Many people still say that conversion therapy should still be offered if people want it, it’s that person’s personal choice. I question how much it is a choice, how many people are forced and/or pressurised into going into it. I didn’t make an informed choice when I went into it. But my response, to this claim, is different. As a healthcare professional, no other healthcare professional, therapist or professional should be offering it, because they should only be offering evidence based care. Care and therapies where there is evidence that they work and are beneficial. There is no evidence that conversion therapy works and a lot of evidence that it is very harmful to those who undertake it. It is very unprofessional to offer anyone conversion therapy. Drew
  3. They were dotted throughout the London Pride march. On all different types of banners and placards, some very professionally produced and others homemade but often more pithy. All of them demanding the same thing: BAN CONVERSION THERAPY! Every time I saw one, I would smile, partly to show my support and gratitude to the person carrying the banner, and partly to myself. To see the dangerous threat of conversion therapy so openly denounced by the LGBTQ community was so reassuring. It was on the tube ride home, that the thought struck me, why the hell hasn’t it already been banned? Weren’t we promised that it would be? Conversion therapy is described as “an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”. It has been deeply discredited and shown to be extremely dangerous and damaging to those who have experienced it. Back in July 2018, Theresa May promised to ban it. In July 2020, Boris Johnson said it was "absolutely abhorrent" and "[had] no place in this country". In May 2021, it was announced in the Queen’s Speech that the government planned to ban it, but only after consultation with “key stakeholders”. Then in March 2022, Johnson dropped any plans for a ban. But the next month, April 2022, plans for a ban were back on. In June this year, we were told that all it needed was for Rishi Sunak to sign the bill and the ban would be law, but it is now July and he still hasn’t signed it. What is happening? Why is the government dragging its feet? Is it that difficult to ban conversion therapy? Sasha Misra, associate director of communications at Stonewall, said: “Five years and four prime ministers later and we are still waiting for this ban to come to fruition. In the meantime, lives have continued to be ruined while these damaging attempts to ‘cure’ LGBTQ+ of being themselves remain legal.” But the ban would only be a partial ban and a very weak one, under the government’s proposals. It wouldn’t cover trans people and wouldn’t apply to anyone who “consented” to it. These is such huge loopholes and render the ban useless. The person only has to agree to it and/or say they are confused about their gender and the conversion therapy is legal. Conversion therapy preys on people who are vulnerable, confused about their sexuality and/or their gender, and this ban will do nothing to protect them. I survived conversion therapy, as a late teenager, but it left me very damaged. My twenties were marred by PTSD, depression, suicide attempts and an inability to form relationships. I lost ten years of my life to the harm it caused me. Yet this ban would not have protected me because I contacted the ex-gay organisation and agreed to be “cured” by them, because I was so afraid of my sexuality back then. Therefore, it could be argued I consented to it. But my opinion alone, of the harm it does, should not be what policy is based on. It should be based on the evidence and the evidence against conversion therapy is huge. D Haldeman identified that it causes poor self-esteem, depression, social withdrawal, and sexual dysfunction. Anna Forsythe’s research found that survivors of conversion therapy experienced 50% more mental health problems, twice as much depression, 25% more substance use, 50% higher rate of attempted suicide and 67% more experienced moderate to severe injury from those attempts, than someone who hasn’t been through it. But these are not the only, scientific evidence of the harm it does, and how useless it is. Here is a list of scientific and healthcare professional articles that identify the harm conversion therapy causes. References that conversion therapy is harmful: Beckstead & Morrow (2004) Haldeman (2002) Shidlo & Schroeder (2002) Forsythe, Pick, Tremblay, et al (2022) Human Rights Campaign (2021) American Psychological Association (2009) American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2018) American Medical Association (2019) American Psychiatric Association (2018) Committee On Adolescence (2013) American Counselling Association (2017) United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (2019) Independent Forensic Expert Group (2020) Higbee, Wright & Roemerman (2022) Wolf & Platt (2022) Campbell & Rodgers (2023) References that conversion therapy doesn’t work: Beckstead (2012) Adelson (2012) American Psychological Association (2009) American Psychiatric Association (2000) American Psychological Association (2013) Jacob (2015) Drescher, Schwartz, Casoy et al (2016) Haldeman (1994) Conine, Campau & Petronelli et al (2021) Kinitz, Salway, Dromer E, et al (2021) This is by no way a comprehensive list of the evidence. It is the result of only a brief literature search, of only a few databases, carried out on a Sunday afternoon, on my laptop. A much more in-depth literature search would produce a much more comprehensive and much longer list of evidence. All the above references are from peer reviewed publications or professional bodies. Countries that have banned conversion therapy Brazil in 1999, Samoa in 2007, Fiji in 2010, Argentina in 2010, Ecuador in 2014 Malta in 2016. Uruguay in 2017, Spain in 2017 Taiwan in 2018 Germany in 2020, Queensland State in Australia 2020, followed by Victoria State, Chile, India and Canada in 2021, Since 2013, 20 states, two territories, and multiple local counties or municipalities in the United States. If we have so much evidence and so many other countries before us have banned it, why hasn’t the British government already done so? I am sure someone will make the argument that legislating to ban conversion therapy isn’t easy. My reply would always be, it’s the government’s job to write and implement difficult legislation, and to do it well. They have all the resources to do it. But this government is now deliberately dragging their feet over this. I wonder if this is part of their “war on woke” attitude? This government’s strategy to blame and attack unpopular minorities, such as trans people, immigrants, and anyone else the Daily Mail newspaper doesn’t like, to try and appeal to their right-wing base voters. Whatever the reason, the government’s reluctance/refusal to ban conversion therapy speaks volumes about how little they value LGBTQ people. I do know that if there was a quack therapy that tried to “cure” Evangelical Christians of their believes, but failed to do so and left its victims very damaged, or dead from suicide, then Evangelical Christians would be screaming for it to be banned. Would this government be so slow to ban it? Drew. PS. I do not like the term “conversion therapy”. It gives this dangerous and completely unethical bullying a veneer of respectability, implying that it is somehow medical/clinical. I prefer to call it “ex-gay”, which tells us how impossible it is.
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