News

Gay conversion therapy branded harmful by the British Medical Association

GAY conversion therapy, much favoured among fundamentalist Christians who have the dotty idea that homosexuals can be turned  “straight”, was yesterday slammed by the British Medical Association.

More than two-thirds of doctors at the BMA’s annual meeting in Brighton approved a motion backing a call for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other mental health standards bodies to reject such treatments and ban their use in their codes of practice.

Patrick Strudwick

According to this report, health departments should also investigate alleged cases of conversion therapy being funded by the NHS, the meeting agreed.

The vote follows a year-long undercover investigation published in The Independent in February. Patrick Strudwick, a journalist and campaigner, posed as a “patient” to reveal how evangelical therapists – some operating within the NHS – tried to “reorient” homosexual men and women using techniques developed in the US. One of the people Mr Strudwick interviewed described his treatment as “psychological torture”.

Mr Strudwick called yesterday’s vote:

A watershed moment in the struggle for gay equality.

He added:

My undercover investigation for The Independent, which prompted this motion, highlighted the fact that not only are psychiatrists and psychotherapists still peddling these abhorrent techniques, but that in some cases the NHS are paying for it.

Hopefully, anyone involved in the so-called treatment of homosexuality will realise that the medical profession considers them dangerous charlatans, and will reconsider their beliefs. I also sincerely hope that any vulnerable gay person who is unhappy about their sexuality takes notice of this motion and realises that it is the world that needs to change, not them.

Tom Dolphin, vice-chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee who proposed the motion, said:

Sexuality is such a fundamental part of who a person is, that attempts to change it just result in significant confusion, depression and even suicide. You can’t just wish away same-sex attraction no matter how inconvenient it might be.

But Cardiff consultant neurophysiologist Gareth Payne said there was no “gold standard” evidence that conversion therapy did not work and was harmful. He said it was important to respect the wishes of patients who asked for the therapy.

Hat tip: Bill W

16 Responses to “Gay conversion therapy branded harmful by the British Medical Association”

  1. Arnold Lane says:

    I’d like to see some prosecution of the most serious incidents of this kind of psychological coercion and abuse. Bullying is being increasingly recognised as a serious problem in the adult world as much as amongst children. Evangelical “straightening” has become a particularly nasty example having been protected by the cloak of piety.

  2. Urmensch says:

    More than two-thirds of doctors? WTF!
    I’d have thought that number would be much higher in the UK.

  3. Ivan says:

    “More than two-thirds of doctors at the BMA’s annual meeting in Brighton approved a motion backing a call for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other mental health standards bodies to reject such treatments and ban their use in their codes of practice.”

    Nearly a third were willing to act against the best interests of their patients by foisting this damaging madness on them? Who are these maniacs and how do we find out if they are treating us?

  4. Stuart W says:

    The conversion techniques that I have read about over the years would be pure Brass Eye if they didn’t contribute to such psychological harm. Examples are gay men being told to trade Calvin Klein underwear (which have sexy male model connotations) for plain smalls and, even more ludicrously, to incorporate ‘straight’ words like dude”into their speech. The moment that sums it all up for me is two of the ‘ex-gay’ male founders of the US group Exodus International leaving their wives for each other having made their fortunes via this ministry which was then carried on by other fanatics. Great work guys!

    It is news to me that this movement has trickled into the NHS. This deserves much more exposure, hopefully in the form of a terrestrial channel documentary.

  5. Urmensch says:

    Stuart W,
    I knew those guys had left but didn’t realise they got rich out of it.
    Is it too much to hope they’re using that money to somehow undo the harm they caused? Or is it just token gestures like the mea culpa interviews they give?

  6. Janstince says:

    I’m always a little surprised at how many doctors are god-botherers. It’s a little disheartening. I knew a few people, and a few friends knew more, who, though planning to go into the biology heavy field of medicine, didn’t even understand or accept evolution. Drug-resistant strains, competition theory, etc. were just not required if you could do the other legwork. I’ve always wondered about that. It’s true, you don’t need to know all that all the time when you can look up answers or diagnose problems and such, though I would think it would help with diagnosis in certain cases, but it seems they propose to use the scientific method without realizing its full import.

    As for psychiatrists and psychologists, well, I’m sure they’ve helped a few people out, somewhere. But for people who have been oathsworn to basically listen and try to get people to help themselves out, it seems they have their hands in the cookie jar that is religion as well. Not surprised, really. A lot of them have that idea of “normal” in their heads, even though they should have been exposed to the numbers of different “disorders” to show just how normal their “normal” is.

  7. barriejohn says:

    But Cardiff consultant neurophysiologist Gareth Payne said there was no “gold standard” evidence that conversion therapy did not work and was harmful. He said it was important to respect the wishes of patients who asked for the therapy.

    Really? So however damaging some course of bogus treatment is, if your patient asks for it you make sure that they get it then? Reminds me of that classic Hancock line: “I was glad to seee the back of those leeches”!

    PS I don’t suppose that this Gareth Payne could be in any way related to the similarly described Gareth C Payne – specialist registrar in clinical neurophysiology – who had some bizarre theory about the success of the Welsh rugby team affecting the longevity of the Pope?

    http://freethinker.co.uk/2008/12/18/the-pope-has-just-12-days-to-live-%e2%80%a6-possibly/

    Perhaps he has too much time on his hands!

  8. barriejohn says:

    It was Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper who divorced their wives in 1972 and moved in together. According to this article by the venerable Warren Throckmorton, PhD (for it is he), they were NOT “the sole co-founders of Exodus International”, so it’s all lies!

    http://www.drthrockmorton.com/print.asp?id=210

    Wickedpedia, however, has this:

    Exodus International is a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian organization founded by Michael Bussee, Gary Cooper, Frank Worthen, Ron Dennis, and Greg Reid.

    In 1979, two of Exodus International’s co-founders (Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper) quit the group and held a life commitment ceremony together. On June 27, 2007 Bussee, along with fellow former Exodus leaders Jeremy Marks and Darlene Bogle, each came out as gay or lesbian and issued a public apology for their roles in Exodus. In April 2010, Bussee stated he’d never seen Exodus actually change any participant into a heterosexual.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exodus_International

    See this also: http://www.beyondexgay.com/article/busseeapology

  9. barriejohn says:

    Some people believe that Bussee was “never saved in the first place”! As one elderly Christian that I knew used to say: “They’re not backsliders because they never front slid!!”

    http://gcmwatch.wordpress.com/2008/03/21/spinning-sin-the-exexgay-way/

  10. Synchronium says:

    First homoeopathy, now this.

    Brilliant.

  11. David B says:

    That is excellent news. The BMA has also, I understand, been talking sense about homeopathy.

    I’ve linked to this story at http://www.secularcafe.org/showthread.php?p=140897#post140897

    A link to the homeopathy story from the Telegraph, which was posted at Sec Cafe. Might have already been posted here, too, but I forget.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7861240/Chemists-should-be-forced-to-label-homeopathic-remedies-as-placebos-say-doctors.html

    David

  12. Troff says:

    Cardiff consultant neurophysiologist Gareth Payne said there was no “gold standard” evidence that conversion therapy did not work and was harmful.

    Wh – sorry… shouldn’t there be “gold standard” evidence that the “conversion therapy” does work before it’s offered!?

  13. Buffy says:

    Well duh! Now when are they going to ban this crap?

    But Cardiff consultant neurophysiologist Gareth Payne said there was no “gold standard” evidence that conversion therapy did not work and was harmful.

    Let’s attach electrodes to his penis and see if he finds it harmful.

  14. Daz says:

    Troff:
    “Wh – sorry… shouldn’t there be “gold standard” evidence that the “conversion therapy” does work before it’s offered!?”

    That was my first thought too. Of course, an obvious test of the method would be to see if it worked in the opposite direction. Which could be erm… amusing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCzbNkyXO50

  15. Har Davids says:

    I’m sure a cure would be needed if homosexuality were considered problemetical, but maybe the likes of Gareth Payne should give some thought to its origin. Centuries of religious indoctrination might make some homosexuals desperate enough for a ‘cure’ if they have been persuaded to believe that shit. This seems just like exorcism in a white coat to me, all at the cost of tax-payer without any sort of relief for the patient, who’ll probably end up with new psychological problems, which will keep the system, and homophobia, alive.

  16. DWAYNE KING says:

    IN “MAINSTREAM” CHRISTIANITY HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT A WORSE SIN THAN
    ANYTHING ELSE.

    EXAMPLE: FORNICATION, ADULTERY ETC.

    THE FACT THAT IT HAS BEEN HELD UP BY SOCIETY AS THE MOST GREVIOUS SIN
    ONE MIGHT ARGUE, – IS DUE TO HUGE CULTURAL @ SOCIAL PROBLEMS: GENDER ISSUES, GENDER STEREOTYPING ETC.

    THOU SHALL NOT JUDGE!