Opinion: Back Liberal Youth Scotland’s campaign to end gay conversion therapies in the UK

This year Liberal Youth Scotland decided to choose an issue which is relatively unknown  or underestimated in British public life for one of its campaigns. Gay cure therapies (or to give them their proper name reparative therapies) are when a psychiatrist attempts to alter a patients sexuality. This can be incredibly damaging to the “patient” as many are either pressured by family members into accepting “treatment” or see it as a last resort. When it becomes obvious that no “cure” is possible many become depressed and even suicidal. Substance abuse, self harming, depression and homelessness are all far more prevalent amongst LGBT teenagers than their straight counterparts and healthcare professionals propagating an idea that homosexuality is an illness or something to cure can only serve to exacerbate these issues.

I know how difficult it was coming to terms with my sexuality with friends who backed me one hundred per cent and a family who did their best to support me.  I cannot imagine how excruciating it must be to be told that something that is not your choice is an illness or a disease.

We must do something to stop this. One of the first questions we were asked at freshers’ fayres across Scotland was whether these cure therapies were that big a deal this side of the Atlantic. However research by the University of Cardiff has shown that one in six psychiatrists have, or would if given the chance, attempt to alter a patient’s sexuality.

We’ve had a fantastic reaction across Scotland’s campuses to our campaign to end this horrific practice. Scotland’s students are angry about this blemish on the face of tolerant, diverse 21st century Britain. If you agree with us, please back our campaign to end this practice by signing our petition here.

* Euan Davidson is the former PPC for Aberdeen North and previous President of Liberal Youth Scotland. He is now a student in Sheffield.

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10 Comments

  • How is it at all liberal to attempt to ‘ban’ someone perusing treatment to alter something about themselves. Possible or not, ‘moral’ or not, it’s their life!

  • Euan Davidson 17th Oct '13 - 1:23pm

    We do not allow anyone to use certain medicines if they feel like it, we only allow medical professionals to proscribe them to patients because we know the effects will be intensely damaging to the patients physical health, why should treatments that cause intense damage to a persons mental health be any different!

  • So if I’m thinking I might be homosexual, then I can get treatment to help me ‘come to terms with it’, ‘accept it’, and ‘come out’. But if I’m thinking I might be straight, then in no way is it acceptable for me to be treated, to accept my previous homosexuality was mistaken, and in any way go back? Cause gay is good, and straight is, er, well, never mind.

  • There are presumably psychiatrists practising now who have been practising since the late 60s/early 70s. That one in six have ever at some point in their careers attempted such treatment at least once (or nonce, but would like to do so) doesn’t tell me much about the current situation in the profession.

  • This is a paper with an ideological axe to grind as can be seen from the “strength and limitations” section and the conclusion which is full of value statements. As usual, we dont get what would have been interesting information such as what proportion of counselling or psychotherapy used a psychodynamic or a CBT approach, or why the researchers were unable to obtain outcome information. The term “treatment” winds its way through the narrative although its clear that most therapists wouldnt use it themselves. Some of the statements quoted from those who believed that ” a service should be available to people who wanted to change from homosexual to heterosexual” and those who didn’t are strikingly similar. And if there wasn’t an underlying swell of morality about this then you wouldnt think twice about it.
    OK, this is a political blog. Euan says, “we must do something to stop this”. How? This isnt about an aggressive advertising or outreach programme. None of these therapists appear to be particularly enthusiastic about the process. These are clients who self-refer or otherwise seek help and are distressed. . So what is to be done? Is the state to say “you cant do this?” . If so, what is “this” that they cant do?

  • What about a service which seeks to alter people’s sexual preferences from pedophilic to not pedophilic? Would this cause emotional damage to the client? Would it be safe or moral? Or should the pedo be celebrating his identity, and going on a march (whilst obviously abstaining and living within the law).

  • Matt Peck: Paedophilia is morally wrong and homosexuality isn’t. So I suspect a number of people will waste their time taking offence at your rather insensitive post. But lets take the analogy. Therapy which is open ended and aims to think about and understand people’s feelings, which is sought and cooperated with, will be beneficial for both paedophiles and non-paedophiles of whatever sexuality. Therapy which is coercive, where the therapist is an agent of the state or motivated by ideology or social pressure, which has a prescribed end or target will be bad for everybody, including paedophiles (and in my opinion not even good at modifying their behaviour) .

  • Euan Davidson 19th Oct '13 - 12:17am

    @Tony Harmes The petition details exactly what we’d do to stop it

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