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BBC sparks outrage after asking: 'Should gay conversion therapy be banned?'

Ill-judged question triggers angry response

Tom Batchelor
Friday 20 October 2017 11:15 BST
BBC Radio Kent discusses whether gay conversion therapy should be banned

The BBC has sparked outrage after it asked in a poll whether the widely discredited and hugely controversial practice of gay “conversion therapy” should be banned.

“Conversion therapy” – a “treatment” which aims to reduce or stop same-sex attraction or suppress a person’s gender identity – is yet to be banned in the UK but has been described by the NHS and more than a dozen major medical groups as “unethical” and “potentially harmful”.

In a poll on the BBC Radio Kent Twitter page, people were asked: “Should gay conversion therapy be banned?”

Members of the public were given two options: “Yes, it should be banned” or “It’s an acceptable practice”.

The poll elicited an angry reaction, with one person asking: “Should racist attacks be banned? Should domestic abuse be banned?

“What kind of question is this? It doesn’t need answering. It IS wrong.”

The tweet followed an appearance by TV presenter and doctor Ranj Singh, who told the station’s breakfast show that the practice was “akin to psychological abuse”.

Responding, another person wrote: “‘Torture is akin to Physical abuse.... should we ban Torture?’ See how stupid that sounds?”

Some mocked the question by making their own polls (Twitter)

Others called for the broadcaster to apologise, while one wrote: “I voted no – I’d love to be converted to a gay... it sounds pretty darned wonderful!”

“Is gay conversation therapy horrific homophobic abuse?” another person asked in their own Twitter poll, giving two options: “Yes” and “Still yes”.

NHS England, NHS Scotland and leading health groups including the Royal College of GPs signed a joint memorandum of understanding in 2014 pledging their opposition to “conversion therapy”.

But a 2009 survey of 1,300 mental health professionals found more than 200 had offered some form of “conversion therapy”.

Mr Ranj later tweeted: “To be clear: gay conversion therapy doesn’t work & is harmful. It’s abuse & needs to stop. Let’s just support people to be who they are!”

After The Independent contacted the BBC for comment, the corporation said it had removed the poll.

A spokesperson said: "The discussion on Radio Kent’s Breakfast show was prompted by the condemnation by psychotherapist bodies this week of the controversial practice.

"We were asking our listeners whether it should actually be made illegal. But we accept that the poll was not the most appropriate way of dealing with this sensitive issue."

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