A Response to the UK Government’s
Intended Ban on Therapeutic Choice

International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC) [[1]]

 

Foreword: Dr Christopher Rosik, PhD

IT IS FRANKLY DISTURBING to witness how many social scientists and politicians are eager to do away with the painstaking process of viewpoint diverse scientific inquiry in order to achieve their desired policy goals. The UK governments proposal to ban so called “conversion therapy” is a tragic illustration of how low the threshold has become for what now constitutes sufficient scientific evidence to justify the abolition of rights for a maligned minority group — people who wish to explore with a therapist the fluidity of their same-sex attractions and behaviours in the context of determining their heterosexual potential.

From a genuinely humble and non-politicized scientific perspective, what has to be said about the research base referenced in the debate over sexual attraction fluidity exploration in therapy (SAFE-T) is that it is assuredly incomplete. It cannot credibly form the basis for public policy without the assistance of a politicized process whereby science follows rather than directs the formation of legislation. The socio-political commitments within organized psychology and among sexual orientation researchers in particular are essentially hegemonic and left-of-centre[[2]]. This viewpoint monopoly creates a serious problem for the scientific enterprise. As noted by Redding[[3]], “The kind of science that gets conducted, how findings are interpreted and received, and the degree of critical scrutiny such studies receive is dependent upon scientists’ socio-political views” (p. 439).

In this environment, there is severe risk that the pressure of political agendas leads to the ignoring or suppressing of information that is inconvenient to the cause. I have outlined these concerns and their occurrence in recent ban legislation in California[[4]]. I mention here just a few aspects of the research into SAFE-T that has likely been hidden from a gullible public.

 

Three problems with research in this area

First, the research into such therapy in the modern era is completely reliant on convenience samples, which are unable to make causative statements. Studies relying on such samples cannot tell us if any purported harm derives specifically from therapy or whether such harm is actually pre-existing distress that accompanied clients into their therapy. In what is likely to be a sign of confirmation bias, the anecdotal evidence of harm is touted as broadly conclusive by researchers and politicians supportive of bans, but these same individuals dismiss the anecdotal evidence of benefit.

Second, the research on SAFE-T is almost entirely conducted using participants who publicly identify as gay, lesbian, and bisexual recruited from GLB venues and social networks. This creates a bias in that those who may have benefited from such therapies are excluded from the onset as they often do not identify as gay or lesbian and do not generally associate with the gay community. Thus, these are studies that tend to vastly over sample accounts of harm. As I like to point out, this situation is akin to examining the harms and benefits of marital therapy by using a sample restricted to former marital therapy patients who have since divorced. No government agency would consider such research sufficient for creating legislation regarding the practice of marital therapy.

Third, there is simply no incentive and lots of disincentive for conducting research from a position sympathetic to SAFE-T. The cases of Robert Spitzer or Mark Regnerus in the United States are sobering examples[[5]]. Researchers who provide findings in any way supportive of such therapy are denounced, professionally marginalized, investigated, cut off from future grant monies, and risk career threatening damage to their academic livelihoods. In such an environment, it is a minor miracle that research countering the preferred political narrative can even get published, though fortunately rare occurrences do happen[[6]].

In the final analysis, what the UK government is proposing to ban is not a therapeutic practice but rather patients’ self-determination should they desire to pursue their potential for fluidity and change in unwanted-same sex attractions and behaviour. As responsible and ethical clinicians, those of us who support patients’ rights to choose such a goal would welcome the professional regulation and discouragement of the worst practices that are alleged, such as electroshock and other aversive techniques. But since there is no evidence that these kind of techniques are utilized in contemporary SAFE-T, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that what at heart is being targeted are the moral and religious worldviews which often motivate individuals who pursue such psychotherapeutic care. This is not the business of a democratic government, and it should remain that way.

 

Christopher Rosik, California

12th October, 2018

 

 Contributors to this document

DR CHRISTOPHER ROSIK DR CARYS MOSELEY DR MIKE DAVIDSON
Christopher Rosik Carys Moseley Mike Davidson
Former President: Alliance For Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity Consultant to
Christian Concern
Chairman, IFTCC

CEO Core Issues Trust

UK government abandons the legacy of the Wolfenden Report

DR CARYS MOSELEY

 

In proposing a ban on therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction, the UK government has ripped up the moral compromise between the vast majority of people who disapproved of homosexual relations between men and those who not only tolerated them but approved of them, made by the Wolfenden Report in 1957 and then put on a statutory footing by the Sexual Offences Act 1967 [[7]]. The fact of the matter is that the Wolfenden Report’s recommendation of the decriminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting adult men over the age of 21 was predicated upon acceptance of the therapeutic treatment of male homosexuality. Of the witnesses who appeared before the Wolfenden Committee, the psychotherapists were in favour, but most other professionals especially from the criminal justice system were against. The Conservative government of the day was not, and neither was the public.

The archives of the Wolfenden Committee clearly show that therapists as well as psychiatrists appearing as witnesses were asked many questions about change of sexual attraction from homosexual to heterosexual, and many were able to answer affirmatively in varying degrees[[8]].

 

Evidence of change from mental health professionals
as witnesses before the Wolfenden Committee

The witnesses were among the most eminent and well-regarded in the psychological professions in their day in Britain. The psychotherapists and psychiatrists who talked of change in sexual attraction in their own clients included H. V. Dicks (Tavistock Clinic), John Kelnar (Tavistock Clinic), Clifford Allen, Eustace Chesser, T. C. N. Gibbens (Institute of Psychiatry), William Gillespie (Institute of Psychoanalysis), Elliot Jacques (Institute of Psychoanalysis), Wilfrid Bion (London Clinic of Psychoanalysis), Dr Harris (Royal Medico-Psychological Society), Dr Hobson (Royal Medico-Psychological Society), Clifford Allen (private practice), Winifred Rushforth (Davidson Clinic, Edinburgh).

Sixty years later the UK government is unwilling to listen to any practitioners in psychotherapy dealing with these issues, having chosen instead only to listen to gay male activists preoccupied with criminalising therapy. This is despite the fact that evidence of the benefit of such therapies to clients has continued to be published internationally.

Analysis of UK Government’s Intended
Ban of Therapeutic Choice

DR MIKE DAVIDSON AND DR CARYS MOSELEY

 

On 3 July 2018, supported by the LGBT National Survey Report[[9]], the UK Government stated its intention, as one action point in its LGBT Action Plan[[10]], to ban “Conversion Therapy”. Its Summary Report states that no definition of “Conversion Therapy” was provided[[11]], but the Research Report’s working definition, (using inaccurate, misleading and defamatory language)[[12]] concludes that these are “techniques intended to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity”. In the nine points that follow, we argue that everyone has the right to walk away from sexual practices and experiences that don’t work for them and should be supported to do so. Footnotes provide information, endnotes further explanation.

 

  1. When referring to “Conversion Therapy” the LGBT National Survey Report makes no reference to the published literature in the field nor to ideological diversity in research and debate, and as such represents “Advocacy Science”.[i]

 

  1. Governed by one ideological viewpoint, the UK’s Professional Mental Health bodies have for some time enforced a de facto ban on “Conversion Therapy”. Public opinion appears to be ignored. Dissension on the matter is not tolerated within professional memberships. This entrenches a mono-culture and view-point discrimination is the result; enquiry research has ceased on the topic, neither can it attract funding, or published recognition[ii]

 

  1. The LGBT National Survey (2018) is methodologically flawed. It has few referents to the general population and has failed to control its population sample. It has deselected all once-gay persons, those benefitting from therapy, and the de-transitioners, yet it generalises its findings for the purpose of imposing social policy.[iii]

 

  1. In UK society, ideological fault-lines separate those who conflate gender and sexual fluidity, from those who view sexuality as fluid and gender mostly as fixed. Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy (SAFE-T) is a valid and ethical response to the extreme practices highlighted by the government’s grab-all definitions.[iv]

 

  1. There is some evidence that public opinion data is being ignored around understanding the innateness and immutability of sexuality and the right of access to counselling, based only on fears of “potential harm” and ideological preference.[v]

 

  1. Neither the Research Report of the National LGBT Survey, nor the LGBT Action Plan pay any attention to questions of personal autonomy nor to the implications of the proposed ban implied in the European Convention on Human Rights.[vi]

 

  1. The state church, the Church of England, has urged the government to impose this ban. Using anecdotal evidence of only one type, and claiming spiritual abuse, they have done so without presenting evidence of harm or malpractice. The church has actively refused audiences to listen to the testimonials of once-gay and ex-gay persons. Neither have they shown discernment of legitimate counselling practice.[vii]

 

  1. The Prime Minister, the Hon. Teresa May[[13]] and the Minister for Women and Equalities the Rt. Hon. Penny Mordaunt[[14]] have referred to the “abhorrent practice of “Conversion Therapy”. They have nevertheless actively declined to meet individuals who claim to have benefited from counselling support for unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusions, thereby denying their identities.[viii]

 

  1. The UK government’s documentation does not appear to be aware that the unintended consequences of banning counselling for unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion, will be increased suicidal ideation for this population group.[ix]

 

  1. Labelling Therapeutic Choice “Extremism”. Government officials have made the link between counselling which supports unwanted homosexual feelings and gender confusions as “non-violent extremism” as a means of supressing legitimate counselling and the choice of clients seeking therapy or counselling.X

 

 

The IFTCC Recommendations to the UK Government

 

The following recommendations are offered to the UK government:

 

  1. Corrective measures are undertaken to listen to those who have benefitted from therapeutic and counselling support for unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusions. The National LGBT Survey deselected any individuals positively helped by counselling and therapy, unlikely to retain an LGBT identity.

 

  1. Support, via the Professional Standards Authority, for practitioners operating according to agreed practice guidelines is given to those offering counselling and therapeutic support for unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusions. The IFTCC is an emerging organising provider of such professional standards.

 

  1. Recognition and development of case law highlighting “other” sexual minorities such as “ex-gay” or those once gay or previously transgendered so that they are actually and not theoretically protected under the Equality Act of 2010 so that discrimination is unlawful.

 

  1. Acknowledgement that under-radar and clandestine operations are the product of bans. Training, collegiality and accountability in cross-disciplinary learning environments are the best investment if harm is genuinely the government’s concern.

 

  1. Resources are deployed to support this minority group to access suitably trained practitioners who historically are denied access (because of the de facto ban) to professional certification, supervision, collegiality, continuing professional development and professional indemnity insurance.

 

[[1]] The IFTCC is Registered in England (10910877), (11th August, 2017). Core Issues Trust (Charity number NI 105095) has supported the incorporation of the IFTCC, together with a number of other organisations.

[[2]] Duarte, J. L., Crawford, J. T., Stern, S., Haidt, J., Jussim, L., & Tetlock, P. E. (2015). Political diversity will improve psychological science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38, 1-13. http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jussim/Duarte et al, 2015, BBS, target, commentaries, reply.pdf

[[3]] Redding, R. E. (2013). Politicized science. Society, 50, 439-446. https://www.conservativecriminology.com/uploads/5/6/1/7/56173731/ssrn-id2344433.pdf

[[4]] Rosik, C. H. (2017). Sexual orientation change efforts, professional psychology, and the law: A brief history and analysis of a therapeutic prohibition. BYU Journal of Public Law, 32, 47-84. https://digitalcommons.law.byu.edu/jpl/vol32/iss1/3

[[5]] Wood, P. (2013). The campaign to discredit Regnerus and the assault on peer review. Academic Questions, 26, 171-181. https://www.nas.org/articles/the_campaign_to_discredit_regnerus_and_the_assault_on_peer_review

[[6]] Santero, P., Whitehead, N., & Ballesteros, D. (2018). Effects of Therapy on Religious Men who have Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction. Linacre Quarterly, 85, 1-17. https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0024363918788559

[[7]] Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution. Home Office and Scottish Home Department. London: HMSO, 1957.

[[8]] The Wolfenden Committee on homosexual Offences and Prostitution, 1954-1957: Records. National Archives: Kew. HO 345.

[[9]] National Survey Report: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-lgbt-survey-summary-report

[[10]] LGBT Action Plan 2018: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/lgbt-action-plan-2018-improving-the-lives-of-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-people

[[11]] Summary Research Report 2018:14: “We did not provide a definition of conversion therapy in the survey, but it can range from pseudo-psychological treatments to, in extreme cases, surgical interventions and ‘corrective’ rape”. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-lgbt-survey-summary-report/national-lgbt-survey-summary-report

[[12]] Research Report (2018:83): “So-called conversion therapies, sometimes also referred to as cure, aversion or reparative therapies, are techniques intended to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These techniques can take many forms and commonly range from pseudo-psychological treatments to spiritual counselling. In extreme cases, they may also include surgical and hormonal interventions, or so-called ‘corrective’ rape.” https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-lgbt-survey-summary-report

[[13]] ITV News, 3 July, 2018: https://youtu.be/CNeaEosWxOk

[[14]] 4 July, 2018 Launch Event LGBT Action Plan: “The plan’s commitments range from a national lead on healthcare, to banning the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy, to action on hate crime and combating bullying in our schools” https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/launch-event-lgbt-action-plan-2018

 

 

Endnotes and further information

  1. [i] When referring to “Conversion Therapy” the LGBT National Survey Report makes no reference to the published literature in the field nor to ideological diversity in research and debate, and as such represents “Advocacy Science”.

 

The fact is there is no evidence of harm from sexual orientation change therapy provided by qualified professionals, in the literature [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. This is what advocacy science ignores. There are also a great many studies supporting professional work in this area [6] [7] [8] [9]. Change therapy is talk therapy led by qualified therapists working with willing and motivated clients.

 

The ‘Science Briefing’ (King, M., and Song R., 2017)[10] presented to the Church of England General Synod is an example of such ‘Advocacy Science’. See O’Callaghan’s (2017) analysis: Conversion Therapy: A Briefing Note by Prof. M. King. and Prof. R. Song (June 2017) Some comments on two of the cited studies.[11]

 

Notably King and Song engage in what Rosik[12] has called the “reincarnation of Shidlo and Shroeder (2002)” or an attempt to supply an empirical foundation to oppose what the APA coined “SOCE” (sexual orientation change efforts).

 

By far the most concerning reference made by King and Song is in paragraph 12 of the Science Briefing in which they ignore the ‘postnatal’ contributors in the formation of homosexual identity and practices – (acknowledged by very large representative data samples such as that by Frisch, Morten and Hviid, Anders[13]) a factor which was the new reference point in the 2014 position statement on Sexual Orientation by the Royal College of Psychiatrists[14].

 

A recent study by Santero, Whitehead and Ballesteros[15] is a much-needed quantitative investigation. It adds to the evidence that there is nothing inherently dangerous in using mainstream therapies and that they can lead to worthwhile results in feelings, identity and behaviours. The study consciously compares itself with Jones & Yarhouse (2011), a prospective study.

 

Among the key findings of the study are: (1) contrary to the null hypotheses, SOCE is neither ineffective nor harmful, conflicting with APA findings; (2) religious clients could be told that from SOCE some degree of change is likely, and (3) positive change in suicidality, self-esteem, depression, self-harm substance abuse, social functioning should be moderate to marked degree of harm is zero to slight and about typical for therapy for other unwanted problems.

 

The authors argue that this therapy is not really exceptional but should be considered in the ranks of the conventional. They say that their study is “further evidence that the APA should reconsider their position of discouraging men from seeking SOCE for their unwanted same-sex attraction.

 

[1] Sexual Orientation Change Efforts Do Not Lead to Increased Suicide Attempts(Summary of excerpt from Whitehead, N.) (2010). Homosexuality and Co-Morbidities: Research and Therapeutic Implications. Journal of Human Sexuality, 2, 125-176).

[2] A.D. Byrd, Joseph Nicolosi, and R.W. Potts (February 2008), “Clients’ Perceptions of How Reorientation

   Therapy and Self-Help Can Promote Changes in Sexual Orientation,” Psychological Reports, 102, pp. 3-28.

[3] Nicolosi, Joseph, Byrd, D., Potts, R.W. (June, 2002). “A Meta-Analytic Review of Treatment of Homosexuality”. Psychological Reports 90: 1139-1152.

[4] Nicolosi, J., Byrd, A. Dean, Potts, R.W. (June 2000), “Retrospective Self-Reports of Changes in Homosexual Orientation, A Consumer

   Survey of Conversion Therapy Clients”. Psychological Reports, 86: 1071-1088.

[5] Essential Psychopathology and Its Treatment, Third Ed, Maxmen, War, and Kilgus (W.W. Norton & Co.)

[6] Karten, E. L., & Wade, J. C. (2010). Sexual orientation change efforts in men: A client perspective. Journal of Men’s Studies, 18, 84–102.

[7] Spitzer RL. “Can some gay men and lesbians change their sexual orientation? 200 participants reporting a change from

   homosexual to heterosexual orientation. Arch of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 32, No. 5, Oct. 2003, pp. 403-417.

[8] Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Jeffrey Satinover (Baker Books, 1996) pp. 179-195.

[9 ] Successful Outcomes of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, James E. Phelan (Phelan Consultants LLC, 2014).

[10] http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/uploads/Conversion%20Therapy%20-%20Science%20Briefing.pdf

[11] https://www.core-issues.org/UserFiles/File/CIT_Response_to_King_and_Song_s_Science_Briefing_Paper_4th_July_2017.pdf

[12] Rosik C.H. 2014. The reincarnation of Shidlo and Schroeder (2002): New studies introduce anti-SOCE advocacy research to the next generation. Journal of Human Sexuality 6: 22–48. https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/ec16e9_c09726fb6df1403dae082c92f3d3d4ef.pdf

[13] Childhood Family Correlates of Heterosexual and Homosexual Marriages: A National Cohort Study of Two Million Danes.

[14] https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/PS02_2014.pdf

[15] “Effects of Therapy on Religious Men who have Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction” http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0024363918788559

 

 

 

 

 

  1. [ii] Governed by one ideological viewpoint, the UK’s Professional Mental Health bodies have for some time enforced a de facto ban on “Conversion Therapy”. Public opinion seems to be ignored. Dissension on the matter is not tolerated within professional memberships. This entrenches a mono-culture and view-point discrimination is the result; enquiry research has ceased on the topic, neither can it attract funding, or published recognition.

 

In the UK two shared documents have wielded influence in opposing therapeutic support as practised by the IFTCC. The Consensus Statement on Conversion Therapy and the (2017) Memorandum of Understanding, (notably not signed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists nor either NHS Northern Ireland or Wales,) were both introduced during the office of then Minister of State at the Department of Health, Norman Lamb. Correspondence[1] with Minister Lamb indicates that at the time those collaborating on the documents were unwilling to interact with those holding alternative views. This follows the pattern of the compilers of the APA guidelines which also excluded any dissenting collaborators.

 

The Memorandum of Understanding (December 2014) purports to ensure inter alia that “The public are well informed about the evidence (of harm) and risks of conversion therapy”. In support of this intention however, the document provides no such evidence, merely citing literature reviews such as Serovich (2008) et al and the APA Task Force (2009) neither of which provides replicable, longitudinal, or conclusive evidence that therapeutic interventions for unwanted same-sex attractions are harmful.

 

In foregrounding controversy about so called ‘conversion’, ‘reparative’ or ‘gay cure’ approaches, the memorandum obscures the real issue: the freedom and rights of autonomous individuals to explore, with the help of professionals, the origins of their unwanted homosexual feelings and the degree to which these feelings may be subject to change, whether these are inborn, the result of abuse or acquired through behavioural patterning.

 

Where are the studies and research reports that show that such interventions are harmful on average, and/or more harmful than interventions for other challenges? Here lie the double standards which discredit the government’s divide-and-rule gender policy designed to split society, the church and families to further the new faith of aggressive secularism. It is doomed to cause disaster because its premises are not based on fact or truth”

 

It is important also to note that this Memorandum of Understanding openly acknowledges an ideological basis for those associating with it, saying “it is informed by a position that efforts to try to change or alter sexual orientation through psychological therapies are unethical and potentially harmful”. In its failure both to cite conclusive peer- reviewed scientific evidence to support these claims, and without admitting dissenting voices to debate contested areas, the Memorandum of Understanding remains a political statement uncritically promoting gay ideology.

 

[1] Minister Norman Lamb to Dr M Davidson 20 January 2015 PO0000907979

 

 

 

 

  1. [iii] The LGBT National Survey (2018) [1] is methodologically flawed. It has few referents to the general population and has failed to control its population sample. It has deselected all once-gay persons, those benefitting from therapy, and the de-transitioners, yet it generalises its findings for the purpose of imposing social policy.[iii]

 

Disingenuous definition of ‘conversion therapies’

In the UK government’s LGBT Survey Research Report published on 3 July 2018, the following claim was made in Section 5.7:

 

“So-called conversion therapies, sometimes also referred to as cure, aversion or reparative therapies, are techniques intended to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These techniques can take many forms and commonly range from pseudo-psychological treatments to spiritual counselling. In extreme cases, they may also include surgical and hormonal interventions, or so-called ‘corrective’ rape. Respondents were asked whether they had ever undergone or been offered any such intervention and, if so, who had conducted or offered it.” [iii]

 

Discrepancy between Survey Report and original Questionnaire

The first problem here is that the Questionnaire to the LGBT Survey, which is published in Annex 2 of the Report, does not define ‘conversion therapy’ and does not claim that surgical and hormonal treatments or ‘corrective rape’ are types of therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction. (Questions 142-145 cover the topic.) Such a discrepancy between the content of survey questions for members of the public and the content of the official report based on the responses is disturbingly unempirical and ethically unacceptable. It suggests that respondents were misled as to the true motivations of the government in asking the questions. For when the Survey opened in July 2017 the government had not stated that it would ban therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction.

 

Most former clients were non-religious

There is table indicating the religion or belief of respondents who said they had had therapy. Although the table shows that Muslim and Hindu respondents were the most likely to have had therapy, the single largest group were those of no religion: 1.5% of the 63,690 non-religious respondents, which comes to 955 people. This was followed by Christians, of whom 3.9% of 17,070 respondents said they had had therapy, which comes to 666 people.

This echoes the findings of the 2009 paper by Bartlett, Smith and King[2], which found that only 7% of clients were reported to be primarily motivated by religious concerns.[iii] Most were motivated by intrinsic concerns, with confusion about sexual orientation at the top of the list (57%). Only 15% were motivated by ‘social pressures including family’. This scuppers the claim that therapy is inherently coercive.

 

Ex-gays presumed non-existent

In addition whilst the survey asked people’s sexual orientation and gender identity, it provided no option for ‘ex-gay’ identity, even though many clients who have undergone therapy due to being unhappy with their same-sex attraction would subsequently call themselves ‘ex-gays’.

 

____________

 

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-lgbt-survey-summary-report

[2] https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-9-11

 

 

 

 

  1. [iv] In UK society, ideological fault-lines separate those who conflate gender and sexual fluidity, from those who view sexuality as fluid and gender mostly as fixed. Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy (SAFE-T) is a valid and ethical response to the extreme practices highlighted by the government’s grab-all definitions.

 

Replacing imposed terms (SOCE) with terms we choose (SAFE-T)

In 2009 the American Psychological Association coined the term “SOCEs” (sexual orientation change efforts) to describe what they believed to be the work of reparative therapists. This was a generic term used to grab all change-oriented therapists. The term functioned pejoratively and sought to emphasise what was considered to be directive counselling approaches. SAFE-T has been coined by therapists in the United States who offer support for unwanted same-sex feelings and gender confusions. Rosik (2017)[1] explained the rationale by the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI) for promoting this new term, to replace terms such as ‘re-orientation therapy’, ‘change therapies’ and ‘SOCE’:

 

  • These terms imply that categorical change (from exclusive SSA to exclusive OSA) is the goal. This is a degree of change that is statistically rare and not demanded of any other psychological experience as a condition of legitimate psychological care.
  • The current terms imply there is a specific and exotic form of therapy that is being conducted (not standard therapeutic modalities)
  • These terms imply that sexual orientation is an actual entity (i.e., the terms all reify sexual orientation as immutable).
  • The terms imply that change is the therapist’s goal and not that of the clients (i.e. it’s coercive rather than self-determined).
  • These terms (especially SOCE) do not differentiate between professional conducted psychotherapy and religious or other forms of counselling practice.
  • These terms have been demonized and/or developed by professionals completely unsympathetic to therapies that allow for change in same-sex attractions and behaviors.

 

In a statement to the media released 16th January 2015[2], Christine Braithwaite, Director of Standards and Policy at the Professional Standards Authority, said on release of the UK’s (2015) Memorandum of Understanding:

 

‘The Professional Standards Authority welcomes this Memorandum. The Memorandum clarifies the positions of the counselling and psychotherapy organisations and reinforces our decision, under our equalities duties, not to accredit any register which allows this therapy to be practised.’

 

The Equality Act of 2010 however, rejects discrimination against any sexual orientation, (past, actual or perceived) including those who experience or aspire to change orientation, as was established in a 2014 High Court appellate ruling[3].

 

The science behind the PSA’s move “to ban” therapy for unwanted same sex attractions was provided by the Royal College of Psychiatrists who up to the time when the first same sex marriages were conducted in the UK (29 March 2014) claimed that “sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by genetic factors and/or the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice” [4].

 

Since April 2014, however, following a robust challenge to their interpretation of the evidence (Beyond Critique, 2013) [5] the College website now admits: Orientation is caused “by a combination of biological and postnatal environmental factors,” and “It is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary to some extent in a person’s life.

 

____________

 

[1] http://media.wix.com/ugd/ec16e9_1940a968273d47f5be4bdf9614d2dd0c.pdf

[2] PSA 16 January, 2015. Professional Standard Authority supports action by Accredited Registers on Conversion Therapy

[3] http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2014/34.html

98: As Mr Squires says, it would be surprising if less favourable treatment because a person in the past was homosexual, but is now heterosexual, was not equally prohibited. This does not require that “ex-gays” are to be regarded as a separate category of sexual orientation. Discrimination against a person because of his or her past actual or perceived sexual orientation, or because his or her sexual orientation has changed, is discrimination “because of … sexual orientation”. There is no requirement in the EA that discrimination must relate to a person’s current sexual orientation. All that is required is that the discrimination is “because of sexual orientation”

[4] RCPsych. http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/workinpsychiatry/specialinterestgroups/gaylesbian/submissiontothecofe.aspx

[5] O’Callaghan, D and May, Dr P., 2013 ‘Beyond Critique: The Misuse of Science by UK Professional Mental Health Bodies’. https://www.core-issues.org/UserFiles/File/Downloadable_publications/BEYOND_CRITIQUE_2nd_edition_Inside_2clr_ART_13_1.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. v There is some evidence that public opinion data is being ignored around understanding the innateness and immutability of sexuality and the right of access to counselling, based only on fears of “potential harm” and ideological preference.

 

Public Opinion is more complex than the media admit

Public opinion on homosexuality is more complex and at times more conservative than the media are willing to admit. Polls are going unreported despite being published.

 

Most British people do not believe gay or lesbian people are ‘born that way’.

In October 2016 the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Intersex Association (ILGA), one of the largest LGBT campaign coalition groups in the world, conducted what was to date the largest ever global survey on attitudes to LGBT issues[1]. The results were broken down by country and clearly show that only a third (35%) of people in the United Kingdom agree with the claim that ‘people attracted to the same sex are born that way’. This is the highest ever level of belief in the ‘born that way’ theory.

 

Support for homosexuality has probably stopped growing in Britain

In 2018 social scientists at Manchester University admitted that Britain may have reached ‘peak LGBT acceptance’[2]. They based this on the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, which is the largest random sample survey on attitudes to sexual behaviour that Britain has. It is no accident that every single LGB group and every single British newspaper was completely silent on these results when they were published.

 

Most British people accept the right to choose therapy

In 2014 ComRes conducted a public opinion poll on behalf of Core Issues Trust ahead of Labour MP Geraint Davies’ private member’s bill aimed at outlawing ‘conversion therapy’[3].

The findings were not reported by the press, undoubtedly as they clearly showed the public did not share the LGBT lobby’s view. Less than a quarter (24%) of British people supported a ban in 2014, and less than a third (31%) of adults under 25. Nearly two thirds of people (64%) and over half (55%) of adults under 25 supported a married man’s right to receive help to reduce unwanted same-sex attraction in order to help keep his marriage together. Only 12% of the public thought such a man should be refused such help.

 

Most British mental health professionals who had seen clients with unwanted same-sex attraction agreed with therapeutic choice

Evidence published by three academic gay activists back in 2009 in the British Journal of Psychiatry found 17% of mental health professionals in the UK had helped a client or patient diminish or change same-sex attraction.[4] The researchers had taken a random sample from the complete membership of the British Psychological Society, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Roughly three quarters of questionnaires were returned, and of those 222 professionals (17%) said they had helped clients or patients deal with unwanted same-sex attraction. Together these 222 professionals described a total of 413 clients or patients. Interestingly 35% of these were referred by their GPs but the largest number – 45% – referred themselves. The survey found that 159 (72%) quarters of those mental health professionals who had seen clients for unwanted same-sex attraction agreed that such therapy should be available to them. This is a very clear majority of those who had been approached. Only 23 (13%) believed such therapy should not be available.

 

____________

 

[1] https://ilga.org/downloads/Ilga_Riwi_Attitudes_LGBTI_survey_Logo_personal_political.pdf

[2] https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/peak-acceptance-of-homosexuality/

[3] http://www.comresglobal.com/polls/core-issues-trust-therapy-poll/

[4] https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-9-11

 

 

 

 


  1. vi Neither the Research Report of the National LGBT Survey, nor the LGBT Action Plan pay any attention to questions of personal autonomy nor to the implications of the proposed ban implied in the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

THE PROPOSED BAN ON COUNSELLING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY WOULD VIOLATE THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Sex discriminationViolation of Article 14

Typically for someone to go down the path of an alternative gender identity means moving away from living and being known as a member of their sex. The Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK imposes no lower age limit on clients, and as such is a serious threat to vulnerable and impressionable children and young people, as well as vulnerable adults including those with undiagnosed psychiatric conditions and learning difficulties.[vi] Such people could be manipulated into a transgender or non-binary identification through various forms of influence, and as such have their sex-based dignity and rights violated.

 

Discrimination against ex-LGBT people – Violation of Article 14 (‘Other status’)

Thanks to the legal casework of the Christian Legal Centre on behalf of Core Issues Trust, ‘ex-gay’ is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Ex-gay is a sexual identity, meaning that it is a social descriptor used by the individual concerning him- or herself as regards leaving behind gay or lesbian identity, attraction and behaviour.

 

Attack on freedom of speech – Violation of Article 9 (thought, conscience and religion)

Therapeutic conversations are a private and confidential matter, though may occur either in the public sector or the private sector. Banning therapy would violate freedom of speech of both clients and therapists, as well as third parties such as supervisors of therapists.

 

Attack on freedom of expression – Violation of Article 10

Restrictions on therapy would count as attacks on freedom of expression of the individual client, the counsellor or therapist, his or her supervisor, any course lecturers, tutors or facilitators, as well as the freedom of expression of family members of the client.

 

Attack on academic freedom – Violation of Article 10

This include the freedom to ‘receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.’ A ban on therapy would erode academic freedom regarding this entire field, affecting researchers, educationalists and students.

 

Attack on freedom of assembly and association – Violation of Article 11

Restriction of therapy is an attack on the freedom of assembly including organisation of conferences, training events, group therapy, educational events, press conferences, showings of films and plays.

 

Attack on freedom of conscience – Violation of Article 9

Many people choose to seek therapy to move away from LGBT identification for reasons of conscience. Many professionals in this field are also following their conscience in providing such services. Freedom of conscience protects non-religious clients and therapists.

 

Attack on the right to respect for private and family life – Violation of Article 8

The original intent of the right to respect for private and family life was to protect the individual from unwarranted state surveillance. Many counsellors and psychotherapists work from their own homes and maybe self-employed. Other therapists may work over the internet or the telephone, or use email. In order to be effective a ban on counselling and psychotherapy would have to entail restrictions on therapists’ use of the internet, phone and all other means of electronic and remote communication, as well as interference with these to detect therapeutic activity.

 

Attack on the right to marry – Violation of Article 12

Some people want therapy in order to feel they are ready to pursue their personal life-goal of marriage. As such any restriction on therapies for unwanted same-sex attraction and gender identities would constitute a violation of the client’s right to marry.

 

Attack on religious freedom – Violation of Article 9

Some clients seeking out therapies of this kind are affiliated to or belong to a religion. Their religious beliefs and commitments may be of help to them in moving out of LGBT identities and they may seek out professionals who are willing to respect their religious commitment in the therapeutic relationship.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. [vii] The state church, the Church of England, has urged the government to impose this ban. Using anecdotal evidence of only one type, and claiming spiritual abuse, they have done so without presenting evidence of harm or malpractice. The church has actively refused audiences to listen to the testimonials of once-gay and ex-gay persons. Neither have they shown discernment of legitimate counselling practice.

 

The Pilling Commission (2013) was an initiative by the Church of England to clarify its position regarding gay clergy and church members. It stated that homosexual people experience an “elevation of risk for anxiety, mood and substance-use disorders and for suicidal thoughts and plans … [and, for men] high risk sexual activity” (para 205) and notes that the Royal College attributes this to “discrimination in society and possible rejection by friends, families and others” (para 206). The report states that:

 

“On the other hand, the Core Issues Trust point out that the three scientific papers referred to by the Royal College of Psychiatrists at this point actually refuse to attribute the causation of mental health issues among gay and lesbian people to societal factors. For example, one paper cited states, ‘It may be that prejudice in society against gay men and lesbians leads to greater psychological distress… conversely, gay men and lesbians may have lifestyles that make them vulnerable to psychological disorder.’”[1]

 

However the Report delicately refrains from noting the highly significant fact that both the Royal College’s position and the contrasting cited scientific paper were written by the same person, Professor Michael King – the version submitted to the Church apparently being a purposeful distortion of the version published in the scientific community. Pilling continues:

 

  1. Is there an issue about the durability and stability of same sex relationships? There seems to be general agreement that, while there are undoubtedly examples of long-term, stable and sexually faithful relationships, gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships have tended to be less long-lasting than heterosexual ones … and more promiscuous …

 

  1. There is disagreement about the cause of these tendencies. As with the issue of health problems among gay and lesbian people, one explanation is the lack of social support until recently. Thus the submission from the Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests: “A considerable amount of the instability in gay and lesbian partnerships arises from lack of support within society, the church or the family for such relationships”.

 

  1. However as the Core Issues submission points out, the very paper which the Royal College cites to support its position states: “We do not know whether gay male, same sex relationships are less enduring because of something intrinsic to being male or a gay male, the gay male subculture that encourages multiple partners, or a failure of social recognition of their relationships. The ‘social experiment’ that civil unions provide will enable us to disentangle the health and social effects of this complex question”.

 

But remarkably, as in the previous example, both the Royal College submission and the cited contrasting paper are written by the same Professor King. And once again, the Commission has refrained from pointing out the indelicacy of the gap between the Royal College’s submission to the Church and the scientific evidence on which it is based. Whether this (and other) misinformation from the mental health establishment may have subconsciously influenced the overall shaping of the Pilling group’s findings must remain unknown.

 

The IFTCC is grateful that the Pilling Commission has, however, recorded for history the fact that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has misled it, offering the Church gay science rather than good science and vindicating, at least in these two instances, the criticisms of the mental health professional bodies set out in the Core Issues Trust publications Beyond Critique and Out of Harm’s Way[2].

 

________

 

[1] Beyond Critique: The misuse of science by UK professional mental health bodies (2013).

[2] Out of Harm’s Way: Working ethically with same-sex attracted persons. Questions of harm, evidence and practice (2013)

 

 

 

 

  1. [viii] The Prime Minister, the Hon. Teresa May [1] and the Minister for Women and Equalities the Rt. Hon. Penny Mordaunt [2] have referred to the “abhorrent practice of “Conversion Therapy”. They have nevertheless actively declined to meet individuals who claim to have benefited from counselling support for unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusions, thereby denying their identities.

 

For some years Prime Minister Teresa May’s government, previous governments and her party has made no attempt to be seen to be listening to people who have found help in fulfilling their life goals through standard counselling opportunities.

 

It is unacceptable to the community of ordinary formerly-gay British people that the Prime Minister chose the peak of Brexit to make this announcement about her government’s intention to ban “Conversion Therapy”. This was done without any attempt to speak to the people such a ban will directly impact. A formal request to meet with her was denied on the grounds that her diary could not allow it. The letter[3] said:

 

“As set out in the LGBT Action Plan, the Government will bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK. The intention is to protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial or faith-based context. It is not aiming to prevent LGBT people from seeking legitimate medical or spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

 

It is untrue that the population of individuals with unwanted same-sex and gender issues, from all over the UK, have access to Mental Health Services to attend to their needs. There has been a de facto ban on anything other than gay-affirming therapy by the political will of UK mental health bodies, for some time. Dissenting voices were actively excluded from participation in the development of the Memorandum of Understanding.

 

The same thinking that excluded once gay (those no longer identifying as LGBT) persons from participation in the 2018 National LGBT Survey, is evident in this response. The banning of “conversion therapy” it is claimed “will protect vulnerable LGBT people” but the question is who will protect the vulnerable formerly LGBT people? Who will support their needs? Legitimate medical advice is determined by the Memorandum of Understanding. So the political mono-culture that has consistently disallowed any dissent and has excluded any opposing opinion is the only legitimate means of supporting at group that is no longer owning the LGBT label. This is an appalling abuse of a minority population. LGBT identified persons attending such medical care will be affirmed in their homosexual practices. Those formerly LGBT identified will be similarly affirmed – or encouraged to follow practices they no longer wish to associate with.

 

This means that the political orthodoxy being promoted as ‘scientific’, may not be challenged. It is therefore the goal of the counselling these people seek that the Prime Minister wishes to ban, and thus to extinguish their identity as ex-gay persons.

 

In her press release on 3 July, 2018 when releasing the New Government Action Plan Pledges to Improve the Lives of LGBT People, the Rt. Hon Penny Mordaunt MP said this:

 

“The Government will eradicate the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy in the UK as part of a new 75-point action plan, published today (Tuesday 3 July), to tackle discrimination and improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the UK.”

 

The must stay gay culture

Both Prime Minster May and Minister Mordaunt have declined requests to meet with once-gay persons who have benefited from psychotherapy and counselling interventions. Recent historic collaborations which produced the Consensus Statement on Conversion Therapy and the Memorandum of Understanding (2015, 2017) refused input from those who cannot, in conscience, support the must stay gay culture and bans therapeutic and counselling support in this area.

 

________

 

[1] July, 2018 https://youtu.be/CNeaEosWxOk

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-government-action-plan-pledges-to-improve-the-lives-of-lgbt-people–2

[3] Letter from Communications Department, 10 Downing Street – August, 2018 to Ms Layla Moran in response to Core Issues Trust

 

 

 

 

 

  1. [ix] The UK government’s documentation does not appear to be aware that the unintended consequences of banning counselling for unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion, will be increased suicidal ideation for this population group.

 

Many declare “I don’t want to see another young person take their life,” and for this reason many want to see ‘conversion therapy’ banned. O’Callaghan argues that there are four propositions here: that (i) LGBT-identified people experience more depression than others; (ii) they likewise commit suicide more often; (iii) a major cause of this is what because of ‘spiritual abuse’ in the Church; and (iv) therapy makes matters worse, not better. Only the first of these propositions has scientific backing. Many studies have shown that depression and what are often called ‘suicide attempts’ are elevated among people who identify as gay – though it is difficult to judge what is a real suicide attempt as opposed to a cry for help, because it is a subjective judgement. In the case of completed suicides the judgement, tragically, is far from subjective – there is the undeniable evidence of a dead body. Somewhat counterintuitively, most studies have found completed suicides not to be higher among LGBT people (with the exception of two very small groups – people who undergo transgender surgery and men in same-sex ‘marriages’ in Denmark – one of the most sexually liberal countries in the world). In the words of researcher RM Mathy,[1]

 

‘… studies of sexual orientation and attempted v. completed suicide (emphasis added) have yielded different results. Nearly all studies of sexual orientation and attempted suicide have found that gay men and lesbians have higher rates of self-harm than heterosexuals. Conversely, all studies of sexual orientation and completed suicide have concluded that gay men and lesbians do not die by suicide at a higher rate than heterosexuals.’

 

Causes of Depression: ‘spiritual abuse’ or other things?

Given that there is a higher level of depression and mental illness in the LGBT population, is it due mainly to discrimination or to other factors? One respected study[2] says, ‘the precise causal mechanism at this point remains unknown. Therefore, studies are needed that directly test mediational hypotheses to evaluate, for example, the relative salience of social stigmatization and of psychosocial and lifestyle factors as potential contributors.’ In other words, it is wrong simply to blame society (or the Church).

  

Therapy: Help or Harm?

In 2004 Prof Michael King, a leading figure in the Royal College of Psychiatrists, carried out a survey of professionals in the field[3] and found that ‘only a small minority believed that current practice denied people distressed by their homosexuality an effective means to change their sexual orientation.’ This is a remarkable statement: as recently as 2004 most professionals – who had first-hand experience of therapies – believed that people unhappy with their same-sex feelings could find ‘effective’ ways to change. Yet anyone holding that view today is liable to be struck off by their professional body. Why? Has the evidence changed? No, the evidence has been overcome by ideology.

 

Only one study[4] has followed people through religiously mediated therapy using recognised scientific measures of distress (and thus ‘harm’); it found that, far from the therapy being intrinsically harmful, people on average came out feeling rather better than when they went in.

 

What about the once-gay population?

What then, would be consequences of banning therapy and counselling for those with unwanted same-sex attractions? In its attempt to satisfy those who are offended by the suggestion that sexuality is fluid, changeable and in some cases is modified through psychodynamic talking therapies, the UK Government is prepared to force individuals to share their belief that sexual ‘orientation’ is both innate and immutable. The IFTCC will oppose the UK Government’s intended ban because it’s must stay gay culture has no regard for those who have a right to leave unwanted practices and feelings they have found to be without accord to their own values.

 

 

________

 

[1] The British Journal of Psychiatry. Mar 2004, 184 (4) 361-362; DOI: 10.1192/bjp.184.4.361-a

[2] Gilman SE et al. Risk of psychiatric disorders among individuals reporting same-sex sexual partners in the National Comorbidity Survey. Am J Public Health 2001 June; 91(6):933-9.

[3] King M, Smith G, Bartlett A. Treatments of homosexuality in Britain since the 1950s–an oral history: the experience of professionals. BMJ 2004 February 21; 328(7437):429.

[4] Dermot O’Callaghan. (2017). ‘Conversion Therapy’, Suicide and the Question of Harm. https://www.core-issues.org/blog/dermot-o-callaghan/-conversion-therapy-suicide-and-the-question-of-harm