Letters: ‘Gay conversion’ therapy is deeply unethical

These letters were published in the 20th January edition of the Independent

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To offer or conduct psychotherapy or counselling with the express aim of altering sexual orientation is profoundly unethical (“The woman who thinks Tom Daley’s gay because his Dad died”, 17 January).

The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and all other leading therapy organisations have spoken out against this practice, including the Association of Christian Counsellors.

While UKCP agrees with the good intentions behind Geraint Davies’s Bill, we don’t necessarily need more legislation to ban gay conversion therapy.

The voluntary professional bodies have already issued guidance to their registrants. We would welcome the statutory regulators (the Health and Care Professions Council which covers arts therapists and psychologists, and the General Medical Council which covers doctors) rising to the challenge and following suit.

People who are struggling with conflicting feelings about relationships and sexual attractions need support, whatever their sexuality.

They need confidence that the therapist whom they see abides by a robust ethical code.

UKCP is calling for clear professional guidelines and high-quality public information, and is working with professional partners and the Department of Health to deliver both.

David Pink

Chief Executive,

UK Council for Psychotherapy,

London EC1

Dr Mike Davidson of the Core Issues Trust was reported as saying: “On what grounds should a married man with children be forbidden the opportunity to reduce unwanted same-sex attraction in order to hold his family together?”

Surely it’s unrealistic to see feelings in terms of “unwanted” or “wanted”? Our feelings are part of the raw material that makes us. They offer information in regard to ourselves and the world, and as such signal a potential.

I support Geraint Davies’s Bill. Any counsellor or psychotherapist who attempted to eradicate “unwanted” feelings  would be failing to recognise that human processes are not the same as medical ones.

Sexuality is more  complex and interesting than that.

Chris Payne

Registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy  and the UK Council for Psychotherapy,

London NW1

 

The media and  teenage suicide

Emily Dugan’s article “The tragedy of Tallulah: how a secret online identity took over a girl’s life” (18 January) seemed to jump on the bandwagon of accounting for teenage suicide by headlining the use of Internet sites by teenagers.

She is perhaps unaware that one person committing suicide often leads to others they know – or who hear of it – being more likely to kill themselves.

As the parent of a 16-year-old who knew Tallulah, I was horrified to open the paper and find the glamorous photograph – first used, irresponsibly, in another paper the day after Tallulah’s death.

Journalists should think very hard about how such issues are explored in order to prevent other young people looking at this image and thinking they, too, could receive such attention after their deaths and have their photograph in the national news. All forms of media can be dangerous to vulnerable people, not just the Internet.

Loraine Hancock

London W9

 

Lost girls: Think of a mother's dilemma

There has been a great deal of outrage expressed about the “lost girls” who may have been aborted, and the need to stop people learning the gender of their babies until after the abortion time limit has passed. However, there has been little concern expressed for the woman who is in the position of being pregnant with a daughter not wanted by the father, as well as possibly by the mother herself and her extended family.  

How will it help these mothers to force them either to seek an illegal abortion at an unregulated clinic or to carry to term an unwanted child?

And what kind of life will these unwanted daughters live, with fathers who wish they had never been born, and mothers who are ashamed of having produced them? 

We allow women to terminate pregnancies of up to 24 weeks on the basis that, until it is viable, a foetus is a part of the mother’s body and not a separate human being. If that is the case, a mother’s reasons for requesting a termination before 24 weeks should not matter.

Of course, doctors do not want to be a part of forcing an abortion on someone. But isn’t it patronising to assume that a woman cannot make a rational decision to terminate a baby, sad though the prospect is, rather than bring a daughter into a family where she isn’t welcome?

It is terrible that women are being coerced into abortions by husbands and families. But the root of the problem is entrenched sexism, which needs to be tackled with education and community outreach, not by restricting mothers’ options.

Ellen Purton

Twickenham

Why would it be “draconian”, as Dr Sarah Wollaston argues (“Britain to act on illegal gender selection”, 16 January), to withhold gender information totally from expectant parents? Why is it necessary for any expectant parent to know the gender of their unborn child?

Just because something is possible doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. In fact, it could be regarded as unnatural. Countless generations of humans have managed perfectly well without this foreknowledge. The element of surprise through not knowing can add to the pleasure of the birth event.

Refusal by the medical profession to reveal the gender of the foetus would certainly put paid to much of the selection.

Iain Smith

Rugby, Warwickshire

 

I have just listened to the news with its litany of rape, sexual assault and generally unacceptable behaviour by a wide variety of men and boys. I also felt horror at The Independent’s revelation of the rate of abortion of female foetuses in certain areas of the world and the fear that it is even happening in this country.

It all adds up to make me feel extremely depressed at the state of our society. Misogyny seems to be everywhere and the casual “use” of women so widespread that many men don’t even recognise it.

Where have we gone wrong that our men are so dysfunctional and have such a distorted idea of the way they should relate to women? Do they not realise that women are people – as they themselves are – and not simply commodities?

Angela Peyton

Beyton. Suffolk

 

British spirit is a thing of the past

I read that the Royal Mail suspended deliveries to two villages near Swansea after a postman complained that paths were slippery and dangerous because of rain.

However, a resident is reported to have said that the condition of the paths was no worse than in other winters; and a neighbour said it was absolutely fine with a pair of wellies.

There was a time when the Royal Mail was proud that, whatever the weather, the mail was delivered.

During the freezing winter of 1947, a train delivering coal to a town on the east coast became frozen solid. But the railway staff knew that the town was almost out of coal, and despite the perishing cold and incredible discomfort, they managed to start the train, and the vital fuel arrived in time.

Where is the British spirit and pride these days in overcoming all difficulties to finish the job?

Perhaps we should be grateful that a different generation was around during the Second World War and that the health and safety brigade had not yet appeared on the scene.

Colin Bower

Sherwood, Nottingham

I understood that the Government privatised the Royal Mail in the best interests of both the business and its customers.

Recently, a notice has been pinned to our local postbox stating that to achieve business efficiencies the collection time on Saturdays is being brought forward by half an hour.

For many years we have received our mail between 9.30am and 11am. We have noticed since New Year that deliveries have gone back to between 1pm and 2.30pm.

Today, our post included a letter from the local sorting office saying that in the interests of efficiencies, rounds had been reorganised and the delivery “window” extended. As a customer, am I missing something?

Roy Baker

Marston Green,  West Midlands

 

Humane approach to lethal injection

Between reading your accounts on 17 and 18 January of the clumsy execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio, I had to have an elderly and sick cat put down.

The process was entirely peaceful. A first injection sent the animal gently to sleep, and a second injection finished him off, with no distress whatsoever being caused. Have the authorities in Ohio and other American states that use lethal injection missed something?

D W Budworth

London W4

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