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NHS England, medical and psychological professionals speak out against gay conversion therapy

Publication date: January 14, 2015

Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people seeking therapy will be better protected from harmful ‘gay cures’ following commitments made today by NHS England, and leading medical and psychological professional groups.

Gay conversion therapy (sometimes referred to as ‘gay cure’ or ‘reparative’ therapy) is the umbrella term for a type of talking therapy which attempts to change sexual orientation or reduce attraction to others of the same sex. There is no good evidence this works and instead it is potentially harmful.

The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) with support from the Department of Health has brought together 14 signatory organisations, including the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. These organisations are meeting today at the Department of Health 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.

The memorandum makes clear that NHS England, the organisation which has day-to-day responsibility for running the NHS, “does not endorse or support conversion therapy and will make this clear to Clinical Commissioning Groups.” This commitment, signed by Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS Medical Director, will effectively end the possibility of conversion therapy being provided on the NHS.

The memorandum also details how professional therapy bodies will work to develop training and continuing professional development (CPD) to ensure both new and current therapists are better equipped to handle appropriately requests for change from those unhappy about their feelings of sexual attraction.

Janet Weisz, Chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy said:

‘The public must know that they can access therapeutic help without fear of judgment.

‘For a therapist to agree to try and “cure” or “reduce” same sex attraction would be unethical and potentially harmful. I am clear this practice has no place in the modern psychotherapy profession.

‘This memorandum builds on the NHS Choices public information leaflet and contains a series of commitments that bolster training support to practitioners and information and advice to the public.

‘It is great to see so many parts of the psychological and medical profession uniting on this key diversity and equality issue.’

The Department of Health welcomed the announcement.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said:

“We have always been clear that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not an illness. Any therapy that claims to change a person’s sexual orientation is not just unethical – it’s potentially harmful. I welcome this commitment from NHS England, the Royal Colleges and professional bodies to help tackle any such practice in the UK.”

The signatory organisations to the Memorandum of Understanding are:

1. Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC)

2. British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)

3. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

4. British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)

5. British Psychological Society (BPS)

6. Gay and Lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists (GLADD)


8. Pink Therapy

9. Relate

10. Royal College of GPs

11. Royal College of Psychiatrists

12. National Counselling Society

13. NHS England

14. NHS Scotland

15. The Scottish Government

16. College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT)

17. UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)


The following organisations have issued statements supporting the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy:

General Medical Council

The Professional Standards Authority