No one should be told their identity is something that can be cured.
Yet many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are being poorly treated by health and social care services, including by staff who believe that sexual orientation or gender identity is something that can be ‘cured’.
On the basis of this and wider evidence, we are calling for central government to publicly condemn this practice and take further steps to ensure the practice is unavailable.
We are also calling for health and social care leaders and regulators to communicate a clear message to psychotherapists and counsellors that trying to ‘cure’ lesbian, gay, bi and trans people is both harmful and dangerous.
What is ‘conversion therapy’ or ‘cure’ therapy?
Conversion therapy (or ‘cure’ therapy or reparative therapy) refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity. It is based on an assumption that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be ‘cured’. These therapies are both unethical and harmful.
In the UK, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies, as well as the NHS, have concluded that conversion therapy is dangerous and have condemned it by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (PDF). We are working to make sure that this covers gender identity too.
How often does it happen?
Evidence suggests that lesbian, gay, bi and trans people continue to experience these harmful therapies.
Our LGBT in Britain - Health report found that one in twenty LGBT people (five per cent) have been pressured to access services to question or change their sexual orientation when accessing healthcare services. This number rises to nine per cent of LGBT people aged 18-24, nine per cent of Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people- and eight per cent of LGBT disabled people.
One in five trans people (20 per cent) have been pressured to access services to suppress their gender identity when accessing healthcare services.