Gay conversion or 'reparative' therapy
Gay conversion therapy is an attempt to use therapeutic approaches to change a person’s sexual orientation. It is sometimes also called ‘reparative’ or ‘gay cure’ therapy.
It is unethical to offer or conduct psychotherapy or counselling with the express aim of altering sexual orientation. UKCP takes its responsibility to protect the public seriously and has issued clear ethical guidelines to therapists about gay conversion therapy.
Guidance for the public
Working with the Department of Health and professional partners, UKCP has published public information and advice on gay conversion therapy.
Guidance for therapists
UKCP published its statement on reparative therapy in February 2010.
We have also issued Guidance on the Practice of Psychological Therapies that Pathologise and/or seek to Eliminate or Reduce Same Sex Attraction. This is an elaboration of UKCP's Ethical Principles and Codes of Professional Conduct relevant to 'reparative therapy.
Committment from leading professional bodies and NHS England
UKCP with support from the Department of Health brought together 14 signatory organisations, including the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Psychiatrists to launch an agreement on actions to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK, to bolster psychological professionals’ training and improve the emotional support available to LGB clients who seek therapeutic help.
An experience of reparative therapy
A short video made by @ProudToBeQueer in which Lee talks about his experiences of undergoing reparative therapy and the effect it had on him. Shown here with permission.
UKCP activity on gay conversion therapy
- Statement from UKCP reinforcing position on conversion therapy [July 2015]
- Letter to Total Politics magazine opposing publication of advert [September 2013]
- Leading UK psychology, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy organisations' statements on reparative therapy and sexual orientation [January 2013]
- UKCP's response to BACP's appeal decision regarding Lesley Pilkington [May 2012]
- UKCP welcomes decision to pull 'gay cure' adverts from London buses [April 2012]
- UKCP statement on the Core-Issues Trust conference [January 2012]
- Statement on Mike Davidson [January 2012]
- Statement from UKCP and Pink Therapy on research into curing gays [Mar 2009]
In 2009, a study led by Dr Michael King indicated that approximately 1 in 6 therapists had, at some time, engaged in conversion therapy.
Since then, all major professional bodies representing psychological therapy in the UK have made clear that offering gay conversion therapy would be in breach of their professional codes of practice.
If members of the public have evidence of UKCP members offering gay cure therapies, they are encouraged to make a complaint.
There has been understandable public and parliamentary concern about gay conversion therapy. There was a parliamentary debate on this issue in November 2013 and there was also a parliamentary motion tabled in June 2013.
UKCP and other professional partners are currently working with the Department of Health to establish an appropriate response to the challenge of gay conversion therapy.
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