NHS should not promote ‘gay cure’ treatments, says health minister

 

Gay-conversion therapy should not be available on the NHS, the health minister, Norman Lamb, has said.

Mr Lamb has written to NHS England asking for assurances that GPs are not referring gay and lesbian people to controversial practitioners who claim to be able to “cure” people of homosexuality.

About a third of mental health professionals said a GP had referred patients such a cure in a 2009 survey. Four-in-ten were reportedly treated within the NHS.

Mr Lamb told The Guardian that gay-conversion therapy was “based on the completely false premise that there is something wrong with you if you happen to be gay”.

“I certainly want to do what I can, as a Liberal Democrat, to eradicate this,” he said.

“I don’t think there should be referrals to professionals in the NHS. I haven’t seen evidence of referrals, but in a vast system [such as the NHS] one imagines that could happen. So we have to be clear about the inappropriateness of that.

“There are steps we can take to make sure it has no place in the NHS. We can also send a clear signal that health professionals within the NHS should not be referring people – it would be entirely wrong.”

However, Mr Lamb stopped short of advocating a ban, saying some patients would want help “coming to terms with their sexuality” and mental health professionals should not be put in a position where they feared they could be prosecuted in court.

Labour MP Sandra Osborne said: “Conversion therapy is a very real and present danger in Britain.

“More than just a problem amongst religious fundamentalists, it’s an issue for the NHS and professional sector.”

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