An International Declaration on "Conversion Therapy" and Therapeutic Choice

Signatories of this International Declaration call upon our governments, local authorities, human rights, media and religious organisations, to recognise that the right to self-determination is an established principle of international law, and therefore must include the right to shape and develop one’s own sexual identity, feelings and associated behaviours, and to receive support to do so.

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The Declaration

1. Banning ‘conversion therapy’ infringes human rights and freedoms, imperilling both therapeutic choice and pastoral, professional and parental rights. See paragraphs 1-6 of Review Document.

Everyone has the right to reduce and change unfulfilling or undesired sexual feelings or behaviours, regardless of their motivations, goals or values.  The right to align one’s feelings and behaviours to biological sex, in order to live according to the values and beliefs that bring them true happiness, is a human right. No one should take these freedoms and rights away from any individual. People should be free to make their own choices – politicians, activists, and mental health practitioners, should not dictate their actions. More >>>

 

2. Professional bodies promoting discriminatory monocultural viewpoints prevent ideological diversity and critique. See paragraphs 7-8 of Review Document.

We deplore the discrimination emerging in western mental health bodies by which dissenting views of sexuality and gender are disallowed on ideological rather than scientific grounds. This has led to monocultures of intolerance where research, leadership, funding, collegiality, supervision and guidance are provided from only one viewpoint. Those supporting change-allowing therapies are at risk of professional discrimination and marginalization. More >>>

 

3. ‘Mostly-heterosexuals’, the largest non-heterosexual minority group, are being denied therapeutic support to affirm their heterosexual aspirations. See paragraphs 9-11 of Review Document.

What cannot be ignored is that, next to heterosexuality, the largest identity group is ‘mostly heterosexual’. Among non-heterosexual minorities, research says both-sex attracted is ‘indisputably’ the ‘norm’ and those with exclusive same-sex attraction (SSA) are the exception. Almost a quarter of people identifying as bisexuals marry – almost always with the opposite sex.  Both-sex attracted persons deserve support in these heterosexual relationships and goals. The state should ensure that freedom by specifically declaring such support is not ‘conversion therapy’. Helping professionals should be free to affirm the entire diversity of sexual possibilities open to them, and not be afraid that doing so might be interpreted as ‘conversion therapy’ under penalty of law. More >>>

 

4. Sexual fluidity happens in both directions but this is being ignored. See paragraphs 12-17 of Review Document.

Across the world, robust population studies have established that sexual fluidity can happen in both directions, that change to or towards heterosexual attraction is common, and this is not limited to the ‘mostly-heterosexual’. There is a lack of acknowledgement of this pattern. Governments have a duty to protect the rights of sexual minorities to choose opposite-sex relationships as well as same-sex relationships – and not to be pathologised in doing so. More >>>

 

5. Banning ‘conversion therapy’ will extend ‘cancel culture’, silence dissent and inhibit free speech. See paragraphs 18-25 of Review Document.

LGBT activists in governments and elsewhere conflate the ill-defined term ‘conversion therapy’ (including morally reprehensible and historically abandoned aversion techniques) with standard (predominantly psychodynamic, evidence-based) therapy conversations, explorations of fluid sexual attractions and pastoral conversations where individuals harmonise the wholeness of their religious and sexual selves. It is important to note that it was regulated medical professionals in some countries, for example the U.K., who in the past administered morally reprehensible aversion therapies, not today’s counsellors and psychotherapists. Legislative bans on so-called ‘CT’ impose restrictions, fines and criminal charges on any provider of standard psychotherapeutic and counselling approaches and pastoral care workers, who offer help to individuals voluntarily seeking support with undesired same-sex feelings and gender confusion. Advocates of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ bans, use malicious language, such as ‘harm’ and ‘torture’ that misrepresents actual practices, in order to advance an ideological viewpoint. More >>>

 

6. Political aspirations sacrifice much needed therapy for children and adults who feel distress about their sex. See paragraph 26 of Review Document.

‘CT’ bans for minors will effectively prohibit children with ‘gender dysphoria (GD)’ from being offered and receiving what the government of Finland, for example, has determined based on research, should be the first line treatment for ‘gender dysphoria’. This involves treating psychiatric conditions that may predispose adolescents to onset of ‘gender dysphoria’, that is, psychological interventions to help them to be comfortable with their biological sex, and not medically interfering with their bodies until they mature to age 25. Contrary to this, so called medical affirmative care, trying to change the body to match the feelings, is insufficiently evidenced with few studies on the long-term effects of gender affirming treatment in children. However, there is a plethora of evidence highlighting harmful side effects of this approach, such as sterility, infertility, reduced bone-mass and voice changes, etc. More >>>

 

7. ‘Conversion therapy’ bans are unsafe while potential causal links between trauma and same-sex attractions and ‘gender dysphoria’ remain unexamined. See paragraph 27 of Review Document.

Despite the fact that there is currently insufficient research to explain the causes of any unwanted same-sex behaviour or ‘gender dysphoria’, authoritative bodies have irresponsibly moved ahead with ‘conversion therapy’ bans. They are doing this despite knowing that there are potentially causal trauma links but without conducting the research needed to determine what role trauma plays in the formation of same-sex behaviour and ‘gender dysphoria’ and therefore how to care adequately for those distressed by their same-sex behaviour. More >>>

 

8. Change-allowing therapies do not actually cause ‘harm’ or increase suicidality according to peer-reviewed research. See paragraphs 28-31 of Review Document.

Contrary to media reports, peer-reviewed research has found that change-allowing therapy does not increase suicidality or harmful behaviours, and appears to reduce it in some cases dramatically, even for people who remain LGB-identified, who do not experience change they hoped for through therapy. Self-reporting to biased journalists, who are unwilling to corroborate the claims or offer alternative accounts, is common practice, resulting in widespread disinformation on this topic. We support investigations of alleged therapeutic malpractice where cases have been reported with at least prima facie evidence to support the defence. We do not support biased self-reporting. More >>>

 

9. Torture claims in ‘conversion therapy’ are unsubstantiated and are designed to silence dissent. See paragraphs 32-36 of Review Document.

Claims of torture in talking therapy in the Western world are without substantiation. These are employed as convenient and emotionally loaded defamation to try to control us and take away our freedoms. There are no court cases where a licensed professional has been found to have administered torture or abusive treatment when addressing unwanted same-sex attraction. Linking therapy bans and torture appears to be aimed at ensuring such bans cannot be contested under any circumstances. We call on those reporting alleged abuse to provide robust analysis of the evidence-base linked to the torture which they cite. More >>>

 

10. Church leaders conceding to unsafe ‘conversion therapy’ bans defame and undermine the potentially complementary roles of pastoral and professional counselling. See paragraphs 37-39 of Review Document.

We affirm the Christian scriptures that distinguish between temptations and actions. There is a need for the Christian community to clarify terms such as ‘celibacy’, ‘abstinence’, and ‘chastity’. Concentrating only on pastoral rights and not the rights of professionals outside of the church will lead to a void of help for those not having a Christian faith. Many from no-faith and other-faith worldviews seek to leave LGBT attractions, behaviours and identities.  Preserving Christian freedoms should not be at the expense of the rights of those seeking access to professional support outside of the church. Theologically, professional help that is scientifically informed might be considered part of general revelation to mankind. We acknowledge the danger of making ‘change’ an idol or of insisting anything less than categorical change is an indication of a lack of faith.  Whilst such therapeutic support is neither necessary nor sufficient for a believer, such input may contribute to the spiritual development and wellbeing of those with faith. Professional therapy, and hence religious freedom in professional therapy, may not be part of Christian beliefs for every Christian, but it is for some.  If the religious freedom of some people can be taken away, which freedom will be removed next? More >>>

 

Signed this day 16th February, 2022

Mike Davidson

Dr Mike Davidson

IFTCC Executive Board
Dr Laura Haynes

Dr Laura Haynes

IFTCC General Board
Dr Peter May

Dr (Med) Peter May

IFTCC Science and Research Council

Co-signatories

Dr (Med) Andre Van Mol

Board-certified Family Physician, California, USA

Dr Christopher Rosik

Clinical Psychologist and Director of Research, California, USA
Prof. Carolyn Pela

Professor Carolyn Pela

Academic, Research and Marriage and Family Counsellor, Arizona, USA

Dr Ann Gillies

Retired Trauma Specialist, Canada
dermot ocallaghan

Dermot O’Callaghan

Director Core Issues Trust, UK

Dr Carys Moseley

Public Policy Researcher, UK

John Steenhof

Principal Lawyer, Human Rights Law Alliance, Australia
Bryan Shen

Bryan Shen

Psychologist, Syngapore

Elizabeth Woning

Change Movement, USA

Matthew Grech

Director X-Out-Loud, Malta
Deborah Pitt

Dr (med) Deborah Pitt

Retired Psychiatrist, UK
Quentin Van-Meter

Dr Quentin van Meter

President, American College of Pediatricians, USA
Gintautas Vaitoska

Dr Gintautas Vaitoska

Psychiatrist, Lithuania

Andrea Williams

CEO Christian Concern and Christian Legal Centre, London UK

Ole Gramstad Jensen

Attorney at law, Norway

Ken Williams

Director Equipped to Love and Moral Revolution, USA

Revd Andrew Symes

Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream, UK

Canon Dr Chris Sugden

Chairman, Anglican Mainstream, UK

Dr Øyvind Hasting

Psychiatrist, Norway

Dr Lisa Nolland

CEO The Marriage, Sex and Culture Group, UK

Dr (med) Christl Vonholdt

Retired Pediatrician, Germany

Fadel Soliman

Speaker, CEO Bridges Foundation, UK

Dr Paul Sullins

Ph.D., Senior Research Associate and Research Professor, USA

Revd Simon Wyatt

Pastoral Co-ordinator, Core Issues Trust, Retired Pastor, UK

Lynda Rose

CEO Voice for Justice, UK

Dr Melvin Wong

Clinical Psychologist, USA

Daren Mehl

President, Voice of the Voiceless, USA

Dr Michael L. Brown

President, AskDrBrown Ministries & FIRE School of Ministry. Host, The Line of Fire, USA

Sarah Sedgwick

Writer. Founder. Transformed Ministries, UK

Jeffrey Barrows

Senior VP, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, USA

Sidney Cordle

Leader, Christian Peoples Alliance, UK

David Kurten

Leader, The Heritage Party, UK

Revd Tryphena Law

Executive Director, PLUC, Malaysia

Agnieszka Marianowicz-Szczygieł

Vice-president, Fundation Instytut of Analysis of Sex and Sexuality "She and He”, Poland

Ayman Nassar

Founder, Islamic Leadership Institute of America (ILIA)

Matt Staver

Senior Pastor, Founder & Chairman, Liberty Counsel, USA

Jeffrey McCall

Founder & CEO, Freedom March, USA

Ivan Grech Mintoff

Leader, ABBA Party, Malta

Szymon Grzelak

President, European Institute for Integrated Prevention, Poland

David Noakes

Adviser, Issachar Ministries, UK

Pawel Ozdoba

President, Center for Life and Family, Poland

Ékes Ilona

chair, ERGO - Europai Regionalis Szervezet, Hungary

Richard Lucas

Leader, Scottish Family Party, UK

Dr Stefano Parenti

Chairman, Italian Catholic Psychology Association, Italy

Raimondas Grinevičius

Leader, Families of Lithuania Movement, Lithuania

Ayman Iskander

Co-Founder & Treasurer, Coptic Medical Association of North America

Co-signing Organisations

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FAQ

Some questions arising out of the Declaration and this website are answered below.

We understand ‘conversion therapy’ to be an imposed political term used to designate and label any viewpoint that opposes the idea of sexual ‘orientation’ being innate (inborn) and immutable (unchangeable). The terms is attributed to the APA’s (American Psychological Association) Dr Douglas Haldeman, who first used the term in 1991.

The Declaration does not use the term to describe any type of therapy, since we see it as a fake term. There are no groups or individuals known to us who promote themselves as ‘conversion therapists’. For this reason, in the Declaration ‘conversion therapy’ is referred to using quotation marks. Activists appear to impose the term against any group or individual promoting pastoral or standard counselling or psychotherapeutic approaches used when exploring sexual fluidity.

The Declaration does not promote any one approach for working through issues around sexual uncertainty. We use the generic term ‘sexual attraction fluidity exploration in therapy’ (SAFE-T) to refer to therapeutic conversations about sexual fluidity. Change-allowing therapies do not set out to change a person’s sexuality, but sexual feelings may diminish or increase feelings of heterosexual direction for some people, as they explore the meaning of the sexual fluidity in their experience. We do not agree with, or support any coercive pastoral or counselling approach, in any circumstances.  The IFTCC therefore does not support ‘conversion therapy’ which it considers a fake-term with a political agenda.

Any responsible person should oppose pastoral or clinical counselling that is misused or unethically applied, including in the area of sexuality. Accusations of harm should be carefully investigated to ensure that such claims are not mere hearsay or biased journalistic accounts. In the first instance, we encourage any reports of abuse or harm to be directed to a counselling provider, professional body, a physician or general practitioner, or to the police – before reporting it to the media.

Historically, there is clear evidence in some countries of historical harm being done by medical professionals to persons who are today described as LGB (lesbian, gay or bisexual) who applied aversion techniques or used electro-shock techniques – acts correctly long since outlawed and recognised as harmful and ineffective. Other professionals and pastoral carers may have been guilty of unethical practices. The Declaration recognises that such harms are a matter of historical fact.

However, the Declaration recognises that it is harmful to hold the view that individuals should not have the right and freedom to access pastoral and professional help to achieve their own goals to align sexuality with other primary or spiritual values. The intention to make use of change-allowing therapies and pastoral support to explore fluidity in sexuality is a personal freedom, denial of which is harmful. This is especially true of individuals with mixed attractions who wish to prioritise heterosexual over homosexual feelings or, in the case of transgendered persons, reversing transgender, where this is sought. We advocate training, accountability and collegiality in developing appropriate support – not the banning of any change-allowing support. Banning will encourage isolation and an underground ‘backstreet’ culture, which will be harmful.

We acknowledge that this International Declaration primarily addresses western nations in the northern hemisphere. We recognise that around the world, some cultures and subcultures differ markedly from these social contexts – and they may have a different understanding of terminology such as ‘conversion therapy’ and therapy bans. We emphasise that we do not support aversive, coercive, or shaming treatments, however they are termed, and regardless of whoever applies them or wherever they are practised.

The majority of those outside the church have no use for Christian counselling and are unlikely to access help through the church since they may have other spiritual homes or have no faith at all. We believe that it is a mistake to assume that only Christian counselling is effective in overcoming homosexual and transgender feelings. Many outside the church find help.  It would be wrong to limit help only to those who share the Christian world-view – we must do good to all men, and not only to the household faith (Galatians 6:10).

By signing the Declaration, you are keeping the doors open for those outside of the church to access the help they deserve. By doing so, you are supporting the view that government regulation has no right to infringe the personal rights and freedoms of individuals to choose their own pathways and sources of help. Signing the Declaration will also help to protect those professionals and carers who are approached by individuals, outside of the church environment, who also seek help.

The IFTCC does not support the view that change-allowing therapies are anti-Christian, promoting heterosexuality over holiness, or marriage as the cure-all.  Those experiencing homosexual and transgender feelings need the full range of options in seeking to deal with this reality, including professional interventions. Failure to distinguish ‘singleness’, ‘celibacy’, ‘abstinence’ and ‘chastity’ may lead to the reification of ‘same-sex attraction’ as an innate and immutable ‘orientation’ which therefore is not in need of addressing.

We reiterate the Declaration’s statement that “therapeutic support is neither necessary nor sufficient for a believer, such input may contribute to the spiritual development and wellbeing of those with faith” (Declaration 10:39). We deny that seeking change is necessarily idolatrous and inconsistent with spirituality.

No, you are not becoming a member of the IFTCC by signing the Declaration.  You are simply identifying with the precepts and values of those who have authored or co-signed the Declaration. The IFTCC is not a membership organisation at the moment, but it does offer training to individuals and groups.  The IFTCC will, in the future, increasingly function like a professional membership organisation, for those who voluntarily elect to associate with it and are eligible to join it.

You should consider signing the Declaration if you are concerned about any international government interference and overreach with personal freedoms and rights of association, freedom of speech, religious freedom and the freedom of conscience.  The issues raised by banning ‘conversion therapy’ affect all of us.

It is easy to dismiss proposed legislation to ban ‘conversion therapy’ as having nothing to do with anyone who is not a pastor, therapist, counsellor, or who is not affected by the issues resulting from sexual fluidity, or gender confusion. The loss of freedom to seek help to change unwanted sexual feelings, behaviours or attractions may affect members of your family, church or business. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion in professional therapy or in pastoral counselling, may not be everyone’s freedom of speech or a freedom of religion issue. But if someone can lose their freedom of speech or freedom of religion, which freedom may be lost next?

We encourage you to show your opposition to therapy bans regardless of your professional status, religious affiliation, or sexual identity.

We support LGBTQ dignity and the right to choice in sexual identity.  We do not support the idea that people are born ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ and that there is no choice in how we express our sexuality.  We do not believe that sexuality is hardwired in any direction nor that sexual ‘orientation’ is something we are born with.

We support counselling approaches that are both non-directive and only client-directed.  We are aware that clients might not experience any change in feelings, behaviours or attractions, having undergone therapeutic or counselling interventions they have sought out, but have found their sense of wellbeing has nevertheless increased after such counselling.

Generally, the authors and co-signatories of the declaration support standard psychotherapeutic and counselling conversation or talking therapies, depending on their training background and expertise. Specifically, approaches are non-directive, and are client-centred.  We use the acronym SAFE-T to refer to a protocol that supports the range of approaches that are helpful in exploring sexual-fluidity.  This is important for us because our work is sometimes caricatured as promoting only categorical change (from exclusive same-sex attraction to exclusive opposite-sex attraction). In reality, there are many outcomes to the work we do, and success is not defined by reported changes in identity, feelings or behaviours alone.

The fact is sexual ‘orientation’ has been wrongly (with no scientific evidence) promoted as immutable (unchangeable) by activists opposing change-allowing therapies. Thus sexual ‘orientation’ has become reified- something that actually exists, when it doesn’t. Therefore, any intervention to explore change is considered unnecessary, harmful or inappropriate and must be banned.

The research literature often uses the term SOCE (sexual orientation change efforts). This term was invented by the American Psychological Association in 2009 and imputed to practitioners who support change-allowing therapies. This term often misunderstands the process, imputing “change efforts” to therapists and thereby implying that counsellors impose their will on clients, to change.  The term also may wrongly conflate both pastoral and professional counselling, thereby making accurate research looking at harms or effectiveness associated with each, difficult to extrapolate.

In 1974 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) meaning that homosexuality needed no treatment because it is a normal variant of human sexuality. The World Health Organisation (WHO) followed suit almost two decades later and the majority of mental health fraternities the world over now condemns what they call ‘conversion therapy’. It is widely acknowledged that the removal from the DSM of homosexuality was a political achievement, and not one willed or motivated unanimously by professionals.

Executive and special interest groups within the mental health bodies do not necessarily represent the views of the rank-and-file members of these organisations. We believe these institutions have largely been captured for political ends and that the effect of this has been to silence opposition and to both pathologise those unhappy with their sexual ‘orientation’ and to criminalise those supporting change efforts.

The Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy (2015-2021) in the UK is a political document. It represents the dominant ideology and does not make claims to be a scientific treatise. Nevertheless, it is an important document because it ethically binds thousands of members to its viewpoint, because of the signatory professional bodies and practise organisations that have co-signed it. Because the MoU is not an organisation and is led by political activist practitioners, we have no confidence in its aspirations and control. It is an example of a monocultural imposition that has refused to engage with counter-arguments or scientific evidence.

The Declaration argues (in the full Review Document) that monocultural viewpoints do not encourage criticality and lead to viewpoint discrimination.  We argue that ideological diversity is preferable to ensure that scientific research is subject to scrutiny from diverse ideological viewpoints. From its inception, the MoU discounted any viewpoint that challenged the view that therapeutic interventions may be helpful and ensured that no counter perspective was allowed to be part of its discussions and formulation of the MoU document.

With reference to the United States, bills to legally ban so-called “sexual orientation change efforts” or “conversion therapy” with minors have been introduced in the legislatures of many of the 50 states. However, but they have been enacted in only 19 states, when both houses of the state legislature and the governor (regardless of political party) are liberal. Otherwise, the bills have failed.

Further, therapy bans are now failing in court challenges.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has held that professional speech has the same freedom-of-speech protections as non-professional speech. National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, 585 U.S., 138 S. Ct. 2361 (2018) (“NIFLA v. Becerra”). SCOTUS explained that it has never accepted a doctrine that professional speech constitutes professional conduct and therefore can be censored. Otherwise, all the government would need to do to take away First Amendment rights from a group of professionals would be to un-license them.

The Supreme Court’s decision specifically disapproved of two earlier intermediate Federal appellate court decisions in Pickup v. Brown, 740 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2013), and King v. Governor of New Jersey, 767 F.3d 216 (3d Cir. 2014). Those decisions had upheld California’s and New Jersey’s bans on so-called “sexual orientation change efforts” with minors against constitutional challenge. Proponents of therapy bans often cite these decisions and argue that SCOTUS declined petitions to review both decisions. But they conveniently fail to mention that SCOTUS later specifically disapproved of both of them.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit relied on NIFLA v. Becerra in holding city and county ordinances banning “sexual orientation change efforts” with minors to be unconstitutional in Otto v. City of Boca Raton, 981 F.3d 854 (11th Cir. 2020).  In its decision, the Eleventh Circuit observed:

            Defendants say that the ordinances “safeguard the physical and psychological well-being of minors.” Together with their amici, they present a series of reports and studies setting out harms. But when examined closely, these documents offer assertions rather than evidence, at least regarding the effects of purely speech-based SOCE. Indeed, a report from the American Psychological Association, relied on by the defendants, concedes that “nonaversive and recent approaches to SOCE have not been rigorously evaluated.” In fact, it found a “complete lack” of “rigorous recent prospective research” on SOCE. As for speech-based SOCE, the report notes that recent research indicates that those who have participated have mixed views: “there are individuals who perceive they have been harmed and others who perceive they have benefited from nonaversive SOCE.” What’s more, because of this “complete lack” of rigorous recent research, the report concludes that it has “no clear indication of the prevalence of harmful outcomes among people who have undergone” SOCE. . . .

            Still, they say, our confidence should not be shaken: the “relative lack of empirical studies on SOCE is not evidence of lack of harm . . . . If anything, the lack of studies on SOCE may be indicative of the risk of harm.” The district court agreed: “Requiring Defendants to produce specific evidence that engaging in SOCE through talk therapy is as harmful as aversive techniques would likely be futile when so many professional organizations have declared their opposition to SOCE.” In other words, evidence is not necessary when the relevant professional organizations are united.

            But that is, really, just another way of arguing that majority preference can justify a speech restriction. The “point of the First Amendment,” however, “is that majority preferences must be expressed in some fashion other than silencing speech on the basis of its content.” R.A.V. [v. City of St. Paul], 505 U.S. [377] at 392, 112 S.Ct. 2538 [1992]. Strict scrutiny cannot be satisfied by professional societies’ opposition to speech. Although we have no reason to doubt that these groups are composed of educated men and women acting in good faith, their institutional positions cannot define the boundaries of constitutional rights. They may hit the right mark—but they may also miss it.

            Sometimes by a wide margin, too. It is not uncommon for professional organizations to do an about-face in response to new evidence or new attitudes . . . . 981 F.3d at 868-869 [footnotes omitted].

In short, in the United States, a minority of states have passed therapy ban laws with respect to minors. Constitutional challenges to those laws are now succeeding. No states have adopted therapy bans with respect to adults.

References:

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, 585 U.S., 138 S. Ct. 2361 (2018)

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=4602323906690040958&q=National+Institute+of+Family+and+Life+Advocates+v.+Becerra&hl=en&as_sdt=6,45&as_vis=1

Otto v. City of Boca Raton, 981 F.3d 854 (11th Cir. 2020)

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=2789433522393909398&q=Otto+v.+city+of+Boca+Raton&hl=en&as_sdt=6,45&as_vis=1

We agree that minors should be protected from any form of harm, including medical harms.

We are concerned that what is being pushed on society, is a ‘selective’ banning of normal and successful explorative talking or conversational therapy to minors, which are used in many other areas where minors require and seek professional help, such as eating disorders, bullying, abuse etc.

On the one hand, our progressively liberal schooling system and society, is allowing children from such ages as 4 upwards, from receiving teachings that fully encompass the whole realm of LGBTQ, encouraging minors to choose their own pronouns, gender identity, very often without the consent or knowledge of the parents, even labelling normal child behaviours as LGBTQ.  In contrast to this, any exploration or promotion of a heterosexual living is being banned under the false term ‘conversion therapy’, ‘hate-speech’ ‘homophobia’ etc and under the aim of ‘smashing heteronormativity’.

If minors are to be protected, a child should be allowed to discuss any gender incongruence or unwanted same-sex attractions. To not allow this, is not only biased but could and should be considered harmful to the minor. 

What is correct, is to be guided by science. Science clearly shows that sexuality is changeable and not inborn. Science also clearly shows that the first line treatment for ‘GD’ is to treat the psychiatric conditions that may predispose adolescents to onset of ‘GD’, that is, psychological interventions to help them to be comfortable with their biological sex, and not medically interfering with their bodies until they mature to age 25.  Trying to change the body to match the feelings, is insufficiently evidenced with few studies on the long-term effects of gender-affirming treatment in children and ignores the plethora of evidence highlighting harmful side effects of this approach, such as sterility, infertility, reduced bone-mass and voice changes, etc.

Ignoring scientifically researched protocols, and accepting a one-way understanding of sexuality, that it is immutable and innate, will and has led to minors being harmed.  Minors should be allowed to explore, but without any medical interference until they are of an adult age and passed puberty, where research shows that many LGBTQ-identifying minors change their minds.

What we believe is harmful, is the restricting, under the term ‘conversion therapy’ of any promotion of the heterosexual lifestyle, whilst allowing the liberal LGBTQ teachings from a young age. 

A further point is that, in other countries, ‘conversion therapy’ bans for minors, have been used as a stepping-stone to impose bans on adults who are seeking help with unwanted same-sex attractions and transgender feelings. In the UK, certainly we believe this contradicts the ‘Equality Act 2010’ and similar arguments can be made in other countries.

Not to our knowledge. The association of ‘conversion therapy’ and ‘torture’ was contrived following an intervention at the United Nations Committee on Torture in Geneva, by a group of LGBT activists. Read the declaration Section 5 on Torture 18-25 to understand the role this association in the strategy for banning ‘conversion therapy’ play.

For many years now, the group of people who have decided to come out of LGBTQ lifestyles, have been increasingly ignored, side-lined and discriminated against.  Governments have ignored this demographic, favouring the aggressive LGBTQ agenda.

The Declaration is important at this time because individuals’ freedoms are being taken away from them.  The freedoms of parents to parent their children in accordance with their own wishes and values, the freedom of minors and adults to explore their heterosexual thoughts and desires, the professionals’ freedoms to help those with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender incongruence seeking help, and the pastoral care freedoms to help those navigating their perspective on sexuality, from a Christian point of view.

A recent London-based event “Is the Government’s Proposed Ban on Conversion Therapy Safe”?provides a range of presentations and access to some relevant papers in the area. Although the event was held in the UK, the researchers featured were international and the event might be helpful to understand some of the important research underlying the Declaration. For more practical information about how to work as a counsellor or psychotherapist you might access the IFTCC 2021 Conference page here or check past conference events here.

Some of the important papers are open-source and may be downloaded freely and without cost. To read the recent article by Dr Paul Sullins which challenges the idea that SOCE (sexual orientation change efforts) are necessarily harmful, find the paper here. For recent work by Pela and Sutton of SOCE Effectiveness, download the paper here.

If you are looking for broad scientific information that has a bearing on the UK Government’s intuition to ban ‘conversion therapy’ for example, you might consider the IFTCC’s submission to the government’s consultation which recently ended on February 4th, 2022. It can be downloaded here. There are several international speakers and legal view points from international lawyers and activists in the presentations at the most recent IFTCC 2021 conference which can be viewed here.

All science should open to scrutiny. The problem comes when any one ideological viewpoint controls research – how it is funded, who its gatekeepers are, who reviews research, who is invited to present at conference and to submit to journals, and above all, who funds research.

The reader is encouraged to ask themselves questions such as, were the authors biased in anyway (such as being known LGBTQ activists), who was funding the research (i.e., was it biased in any way) was any data ignored (such as pre-existing suicidality in suicidality studies relating to harm and effectiveness of ‘SOCE’), what are the methods of sampling, is there any bias (such as excluding those who are ex-LGBTQ identified).

It’s very easy for any writer or researcher to fall into the trap of ‘confirmation bias’ where we favour only the findings of researcher’s whose conclusions match our own beliefs and viewpoints. Where there is ideological diversity and challenges are made to our preconceptions, findings and conclusions, there is the chance of producing better writing and scientific research. Where we only allow ourselves to be surrounded by like-minded persons, holding the same or similar opinions, the chances of falling into biased reporting is increased. Of course, where diversity is extreme and no ground rules of engagement and conversation can be agreed, there is little chance of benefiting from diverse interactions. It is important however, that we are aware of counter and contrary arguments to our own, and that is best gained by listening carefully to and dialoguing respectfully with our opponents.

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