Risks of conversion therapy

The Society is one of 14 national organisations to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy, recognising that efforts to try to change or alter sexual orientation through psychological therapies are unethical and potentially harmful. The Memorandum sets out an agreed framework to tackle the issues raised by the practice of conversion therapy in the UK. Supported by the Department of Health, the organisations that signed up include professional associations, voluntary regulators, NHS England and campaigning groups. They recognise a shared commitment to protecting the public from the risks of conversion therapy.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Lyndsey Moon, who represented the Society on the Memorandum working group said: ‘I am delighted that we have been able to build on the clear position the British Psychological Society has taken on this issue over a number of years. The BPS believes that people of same-sex sexual orientations should be regarded as equal members of society. This includes freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere, and a right to protection from therapies that purport to change or ‘convert’ sexual orientation.’

The Memorandum is not intended to discourage clients with conflicted feelings around sexuality from seeking help. For anyone who is unhappy about their sexual orientation – whether heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual – there are therapeutic options to help them live more comfortably with it, reduce their distress and reach a greater degree of acceptance of their sexual orientation.

Dr Moon added: ‘With so many national organisations signing up to this document it can only strengthen the way forward for real equality. The Memorandum of Understanding sets out a framework for further work in this area. This is an important document and I am pleased to have represented the Society on this working group.’

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: ‘We have always been clear that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not an illness. Any therapy that claims to change a person’s sexual orientation is not just unethical – it’s potentially harmful. I welcome this commitment from NHS England, the Royal Colleges and professional bodies to help tackle any such practice in the UK.’

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