The country’s leading psychiatrists have united to condemn so-called “gay cure” therapies as an “abuse” of patients which is neither ethically nor scientifically sound.
A consensus statement undersigned by professional bodies including the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) said that practitioners who offered “cures” and “treatments” for homosexuality were harming their patients.
In a statement requested by the Department of Health, the group said that to suggest to “vulnerable people” who sought psychiatric help that their sexuality was the cause of their difficulties was “misleading and prejudiced.”
David Pink, chief executive of the UKCP, said that high profile cases of gay cure therapy featured in the media had led the profession to speak out.
“The public needs to know where responsible professionals stand on this,” he said. “Using psychotherapy to change or convert gay people is an abuse.”
Gay cure therapies are often based on religious interpretations of sexuality.
The religious organisation Core Issues, whose bus advertisements reading: "Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!", were banned in 2012, has raised the profile of the therapies.
Its website says they are difficult to find in the UK because “gay activists and those who support their agenda are determined to outlaw therapeutic help for those wanting to move quietly, honourably and respectfully out of homosexual practice.”
James Taylor, head of policy at the charity Stonewall, said that so-called gay cures were no more than “voodoo”.
“In 21st century Britain, lesbian, gay and bisexual people should be able to access therapy and counselling services without fear of discrimination or judgement,” he said.