Not a good week for ‘gay cure’ quacks

This week California passed a law banning therapy aimed at making gay teenagers straight.

Now Britain’s biggest professional body for psychotherapists, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has instructed members that it is unethical for them to attempt to “convert” gay people to being heterosexual. The other main professional body for British psychotherapists, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, had issued similar guidance to members back in 2010.

The professional guidance comes on top of the BACP withdrawing professional membership from ‘conversion therapist’ Lesley Pilkington. Pilkington, who spoke at conference (PDF) – organised by the Lisburn-based Christian group Core Issues – in Belfast’s Belvoir Church of Ireland parish church last year, had previously been sanctioned by BACP.  She subsequently failed to fulfill the directions of the sanction and now has been “struck off”.

If you are interested in some more background, Gerry Lynch blogged about Core Issues back in January. Incidentally, since then, organisation’s director, Mike Davidson, had his professional credentials withdrawn by the British Psychodrama Association.

Pilkington was the therapist who tried to convert undercover journalist Patrick Strudwick, who subsequently exposed her activities and testified against her at tribunal.

Strudick told of his experiences at this summer’s Amnesty International Belfast Pride lecture and has just written an updated account, available at The Independent, noting that Pilkington “becomes the first therapist in history to be struck off after trying to convert a gay client to heterosexuality – despite decades of such abusive interventions by the profession.”

As recently as 2009 a study showed that one in six therapists in the UK would agree to try to ‘cure’ a client who requested treatment to make them heterosexual. Now it looks like the days of this quackery – at least in some countries – are coming to an end.

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  • Can we refer to a certain ex-politico by name or is she still mentally ill and “untouchable”? Would hate to stumble inadvertently into a yellow card.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t think so Joe, it’s three years ago and a bit below the belt IMO.

  • Patricik,

    Since I respect our Comrade a lot, I’ll accept what he says so you can remove my comment.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Just my opinion.

  • andnowwhat

    Great news.

    I really, really wish the homophobes and nut jobs would stop using the term ‘Christian’. The vast majority of their arguments and beliefs are old testament

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘I really, really wish the homophobes and nut jobs would stop using the term ‘Christian’. The vast majority of their arguments and beliefs are old testament’

    How about Dad of christian ?

  • BarneyT

    sure you’re born gay. Gods will…which on the timeline introduces a notion that God is perhaps not Christian….as he’s the Da!

  • carl marks

    A bit of good news, long overdue but better late than never.

  • Clanky

    Another sign that society as a whole is rejecting the notion that claiming “a super-being in the sky told me to do it”, is somehow an excuse for treating people like scum.

  • captainzip

    Okay, sounds good that society is addressing ‘quackery’ and language that implies a cure is lamentable. But are these organisations proposing that sexuality is in no way mutable? Or do they acknowledge that it is but we should offer no aid to those questioning there sexual identity?

  • Alias

    I’d be concerned about denying people the right to determine their own sexuality if they felt uncomfortable about being sexually attracted to their own gender, or, at any rate, denying them professional assistance to that end.

    It ignores the reality that folks can become confused about sexual attraction and may need counselling to help them to resolve the confusion one way or the other.

    This seems to be enforcing homosexuality on individuals who are not comfortable with it, denying them the right to change their condition, because of an agenda to enforce homosexuality on a society that is not comfortable with it.

    But I’m not really surprised at Amnesty supporting a politically correct agenda at the expense of human rights…

  • gaygael

    @Alias – no professional body pertaining to mental health, psychiatry, psychotherpay etc supports therpay to change sexual orientation – at best it doesn’t work, at worst it further exacerbates poorer self-esteem, increases risk of suicide and self-harm and risk taking behaviours.

    Would you suppport therpay offered to heterosexual people to help them become gay,lesbian or bisexual? That’s becaure it can’t and doesn’t work!
    You come at this arguement that there is something intrinsically disordered with minority sexual orientation.You cannot determine your sexual orientation, just as you can;t with race, eye colour etc
    It addition, the rreason that people struggle with acceptance of minority sexual orientation is because of people like you and attitudes that you present being given any form of kudos.
    The welcome statement by BACP will hopefully move towards redressing this.

  • Taoiseach

    It’s all about action, not attraction. Another great “victory” for the gay lobby. This was nevery about “converting” homosexuals. It’s about helping people who have same sex attractions and who don’t wish to act on them. In the same way a therapist might help an arsonist, a kleptomaniac or a paedophile. (This is the point at which liberal knuckle draggers’ heads explode and they accuse me of saying homosexuals are paedophiles – I’m not.) What does it say about tolerance that you make it practically illegal for someone with same sex attraction to seek help unless they are willing to be told that they must embrace their attractions and act on them to be complete?

  • Taoiseach

    Do you remember when Amnesty International used to be concerned about prisoners of conscience? That was a long time ago.

  • Alias

    “no professional body pertaining to mental health, psychiatry, psychotherpay etc supports therpay to change sexual orientation – at best it doesn’t work, at worst it further exacerbates poorer self-esteem, increases risk of suicide and self-harm and risk taking behaviours.”

    The objection – at least in the example cited – is based on the particular organisation’s concept of ethical behaviour and is not based on scientific evidence. The science supports the view that a wide range of variable psychological, social, and cultural dynamics influence sexuality. Counselling can counter these dynamics .

    As Taoiseach pointed out, attraction and action are not the same. Are you arguing that people are born to act camp, for example? Is there a gene that produces stereotypical gay personalities such as Julian Clary, Graham Norton, or Richard Simmons? No, their common camp personalities are examples of learned behaviour, even if their sexual orientation is not, so that is an example of the psychological, social, and cultural dynamics combine in mimicked behaviour.

    “Would you suppport therpay offered to heterosexual people to help them become gay,lesbian or bisexual?”

    If someone felt same gender attraction and wanted to develop that side of his/her life then that is his/her private business. Personally, I think folks who want to mutilate their bodies via transgender surgery are entitled to do so if they can afford the medical fees but I think it’s highly unethical for surgeons to form that surgery. I don’t think it is in any way unethical to offer counselling services to people who are uncomfortable with sexual orientation. In fact, I’d argue it’s a human right for that person to make decision for his/her self.

    “That’s becaure it can’t and doesn’t work!”

    Now you’re conflating ‘ethics’ with science.

    “You come at this arguement that there is something intrinsically disordered with minority sexual orientation. You cannot determine your sexual orientation, just as you can;t with race, eye colour etc.”

    There simply isn’t the evidence for you to proffer the view that sexual orientation is fixed and fixed at birth. Psychological, social, and cultural dynamic don’t play a role in determining the latter factors, so sexual orientation should not grouped in there. Also, homosexuality is by definition abnormal behaviour since it deviates from the norm. The separate question of whether or not it is undesirable behaviour is essentially a matter of opinion.

    “It addition, the rreason that people struggle with acceptance of minority sexual orientation is because of people like you and attitudes that you present being given any form of kudos.”

    Perhaps, but it could also have something to do with the gay stereotypes on parade at gay festivals. However much you wish it were not so, a man wearing a pink dress on a float will always look ridiculous to others and Julian Clary will never be much of a role model. It is that image that likely horrifies the person who may then wish to undertake counselling to avoid what he may wrongly think is the fate that awaits him. If the behaviour of gays disgust him, then that is something gays need to redress, not society.

  • Taoiseach: Amnesty International ‘take action’ page for prisoners of conscience and other individuals at risk: http://amnesty.org.uk/actions.asp?intPage=1&order=&PageSize=20&as_fid=Pq3h8kogV%2BWjLr3ZyE76

  • qwerty12345

    gaygael wrote: “Would you suppport therpay offered to heterosexual people to help them become gay,lesbian or bisexual?”

    —–

    Hats off to you, SUPERB question.

  • Roy Walsh

    I find it queer that these people can be struck off, I mean, it’s a social’science’ degree, do they think they are intelligent?

  • galloglaigh

    gaygael

    I see where Alias is coming from, but your argument is flawed. The “(BACP) has instructed members that it is unethical for them to attempt to ‘convert’ gay people to being heterosexual”. The flaw is in the wording: “attempt to convert”. Surely if you’re confused you’re not gay? But to get to the point – If someone who might be confused about their sexuality goes to a quack, that person has gone voluntarily, and is seeking help, as you say, to get over any possible confusion. The quack has an obligation under oath, to look after the needs of the person in confidence. It would be unethical to turn the person away, given that a possible outcome is suicide. That’s not to say I agree with the practice. It would bring to the fore any possible depression, or suicidal thoughts.

  • Alias

    It’s a political argument, having zero to do with science. Essentially, it’s an attempt at social engineering wherein the abnormal is to be conflated with the normal.

    Hence the ‘superb’ question: “Would you suppport therpay offered to heterosexual people to help them become gay,lesbian or bisexual?”

    This backfires as social engineering because it simply highlights the absurdity of anyone wanting to be gay as opposed to being heterosexual, in much the same way that someone might seek psychological help to remove fixation but not to create it.

    Why do some gays go to such efforts to create feelings of disgust in society toward them such as their collective antics at gay festivals, culture of cottaging, or the assuming of deliberately grotesque personalities? It isn’t to challenge what society’s attitudes toward behaviour that is designed to disgust it but simply to disgust society as an expression of their contempt for it. With that ilk, appeasement is pointless since they will always find new ways to express their contempt.

    This is where some gays need to change their behaviour, and not where society needs to change its attitude to that behaviour. That behaviour is more likely to disgust a person who is gay and who shares society’s quite proper attitude to such amoral excess since he/she is being invited to support it or to define himself by it, and it is that which is likely cause him some grave concern about his own disposition. Most gays are not distinguishable from heterosexual people in society because such behaviour does not represent them.

    It is the extreme gays who are a disgrace to their own disposition; and, of course, the extreme left-wing muppets who use them to engineer their desired amoral society.

  • abucs

    Hi Alias. I believe there is also at least one state in the U.S. where if a gay person asks the doctor to help him/her change his orientation then that person will be charged with a hate crime against …. well … himself / herself.

    I agree with your political social engineering comment with a distinct lack of scientific enquiry.