On 17th. July Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, presented her Personal ,Social, Health and Economic Education [Statutory Requirement] Bill to the House of Commons for its First Reading. The bill was jointly sponsored by Labour M.Ps Glenda Jackson, Valerie Vaz, Yasmin Quareshi, and Barbara Keeley as well as Liberal Democrat Tim Farron.

The full text of the bill is yet to be published but, in essence, it calls upon the Secretary of State for Education to provide that Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education [PSHE] be a statutory requirement for all state funded schools; for PHSE to include Sex and Relationships Education [SRE] and education on ending violence against women and girls; to provide for initial and continuing teacher education and guidance on best practice for delivering and inspecting PSHE and SRE education; and for connected purposes.

The Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network welcomes this initiative —albeit with reservations. These are:

1 Any legislation should apply to ALL schools whether state funded or not.
2. When the detailed text is published it should make it clear that SRE will be LGBT inclusive. Ms. Lucas is perfectly right to focus on the violence perpetrated in our schools against women and girls but homophobia and associated bullying should also be highlighted as a major problem that must be effectively tackled.
3. The third reservation is that parliamentary procedures mean that the chances of this bill coming law—or even being debated – is minimal. That was the fate of Geraint Davies’ Private Members Bill earlier this year to try to ban Conversion Therapy.
This is not to belittle the efforts of these backbench MPs to keep these vital issues on the political agenda, but a great deal more in the way of campaigning needs to be done as well.

Our petition on this issue will be presented to Diana Johnson soon.

Vital at the moment is the need to get a pledge on Mandatory SRE-Inclusive PSHE in ALL schools to go in to Labour#s Manifesto. All the signs are that this is being resisted by the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Tristram Hunt, who does not want PSHE mandatory. In this sense he really does seem to have been the shadow of the late lamented Michael Gove. We believe that there is widespread support for mandatory PSHE in the Labour Party in Parliament and the Country. For this reason we applaud those backbench MPs who have stood up and been counted. May there be more of them. May those members of the Shadow Cabinet who we know disagree with Hunt [read Yvette Coopers last conference speech] continue to push the case behind closed doors. But above all let the battle be fought within the Labour Party on this vital issue so that the case can be put to the country. Now is not the time to be seen to be running scared.


It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post a blog on here, but that is testament to the hard work that we have all been doing. I have been meaning to post on here for ages, but everytime I get to a computer, there are other things I need to work on instead. Still, now that things are starting to quieten down for the summer, I thought I’d write a blog highlighting our success through 2013 and 2014.

2013 Hull Pride was an amazing event as usual, and we found lots of support for our PHSE petition. Everyone who signed said how they felt it was important, and in light of the current enquiry being made by the Secretary of State for Education, we couldn’t have chosen a more perfect time to carry out the petition. We will shortly be handing in over 700 signatures to Hull North MP Diana Johnson, and we hope the committee will take notice.

Our campaign on the vile practice of so called “gay to straight CONversion therapy” remains ongoing, and in January 2014, a debate was held in Westminster Hall regarding the matter following the petition from 2012 being presented last July (2013), but once again, the government stopped short of enacting a ban, instead they merely condemned the practice. How on Earth they can justify this is beyond belief, it’s almost as though they’re saying “we don’t want you to do this, and as professionals, you should know better, but feel free to go ahead and wreck lives all the same, we’ll not stand in your way”.

Just recently, our focus has once again been broadened, by an incident that took place right on our own doorsteps in Hull. A man in his 30’s was set upon by the banks of the Humber for simply walking out of the Fuel nightclub to set off home earlier that evening. The thugs (Jamie Norris and Callum Crosby) attempted to befriend their victim as he walked home, and by the time they had walked to the river bank, things had started to turn a little nasty. It became apparent to the victim that these people were not friends at all, instead proceeding to hurl homophobic abuse at him, before attempting to rob him, finally pushing him into the river when their attempt failed. The pair then went and bragged about what they had done, whilst covered in mud, at a nearby take away, boasting to a cashier there that they had just thrown a man into the river for being gay, and they weren’t sure if he was dead or not. She alerted the authorities. The victim of this crime found himself stranded, stuck in a mud bank by the river on a cold January night, unable to free himself, but thankfully managed to get his mobile phone out, alerting the authorities himself and was rescued. You don’t need me to tell you what the outcome of this incident could have been.

The incident wasn’t reported by the media until the case went to trial in May. The defendants were sentenced to 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 years in prison for “attempted robbery”. It is unclear whether or not the judge in this case had even considered the hate crime element, despite he himself saying that the only reason they chose their victim was because he was gay.

As a result of this massively lenient sentence, the network wishes to investigate whether hate crime legislation is working as it was intended, and to see what necessary changes need to be made. Whilst we’re on the subject, a heterosexual man in Leeds was in need of hospital treatment, and may need to permanently have a metal plate inside his head for the rest of his life, following a glass attack in one of the city’s gay bars. The assailant claimed to police that he thought his victim was going to “try it on with me, cos you know what gay guys are like”. He received a one year custodial sentence. Again, the punishment is not fitting of the crime.

All of the points the network has covered so far boil down to education. Why would someone be so desperate to change their sexuality? Simply because they are unaware how full a life they could lead, and how happy they can be just being themselves. Education you see. Where does the word “homophobia” come from? Well, a phobia is a fear, sometimes of the UNKNOWN, and if people grow up in ignorance, how are they expected to be anything else but fearful of other people’s differences? So it is vital that the government listen to our evidence that we have submitted to the Education Select Committee, and act to ensure that the next generation don’t grow up in ignorance. That is why our education campaign is so important, especially given the recent government reshuffle. It is without question (as far as I can see), that the rising popularity of UKIP has alarmed the government, forcing it to lurch to the right. Micheal Gove was unlikely to support our campaign anyway, and given Nicky Morgan’s voting history (I refer specifically to to the marriage: same sex couples act) it would appear more unlikely than ever that the government will listen. So this campaign is of the utmost importance.

Lastly, I’d like to salute the Hull and East Riding LGBT Forum. We have been attending their meetings, held monthly, for the last two and a half years, and they do some great work bringing LGBT matters to the fore locally. The forum recently held its AGM and it’s felt that it can only get stronger. The Hull and Esat Riding Labour LGBT Network will be helping them all the way.

Thanks for reading, keep in touch, and if you’d like to get involved, please drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you.

Danny :-D x

Ros Asquith The Guardian
Ros Asquith The Guardian
Gove out, Nicky Morgan in – but is it really a cause for celebration?

Few in the LGBT Community will mourn the demise of Michael Gove. Through his refusal to take homophobic bullying in schools seriously by introducing mandatory SRE inclusive PSHE he left many youngsters in fear and ignorance with tragic results. Sadly we can hope for little better from his successor Nicky Morgan beyond the remote hope that she might listen. Morgan ,who has crawled her way to the top by being ultra loyal to the leadership nevertheless voted against their wishes in voting against equal marriage last year. For this reason she was deprived of the equalities portfolio when she succeeded the disgraced Maria Miller as Minister for Women. Doubtless this reflected her position as a trustee of the traditionalist Conservative Christian Fellowship. In accordance with the leaderships wishes she also opposed making PSHE mandatory in Academies.

Now, however, in a step back towards the Conservative Party’s Section 28 heritage, Cameron has restored to her the role of Equalities Minister so that we now have an Equalities Minister who has voted for inequality. It also means that she will be in charge of combatting homophobia in schools as both Education and Equalities Minister. This may appeal to the more reactionary Tory voters and grab a few votes back from UKIP, but it is bad news for those suffering from homophobic bullying in schools and inequalities elsewhere. It seems that Cameron’s brief attempt to detoxify the Tory Party of which Equal Marriage was a part is well and truly ended. As former Labour MEP and Gay Rights Activist Michael Cashman commented, “Nicky Morgan in charge of education and equalities is deeply worrying. The true nature of the Tory Party is unchanged and reverting to type.” It is also doing so in another sense. Morgan’s appointment was part of Cameron’s attempt to make the cabinet less dominated by rich, middle-aged white men. But Morgan, as a former Head Girl at a leading fee-paying day school, with a Law Degree from Oxford and a background as a corporate lawyer is caste in almost exactly the same mould as the rest of the ruling elite. Indeed she is far more representative of it than Michael Gove and might almost be termed an honorary ‘old boy.’ Really the outlook is not hopeful and our campaign becomes all the more relevant.

Nicky Morgan’s appointment makes our campaign all the more important.

And fear and ignorance will continue to rule our country’s classrooms with tragic consequences.

Colin Livett 15th July 2014

Front page image
Stonewall’s 2014 Teachers’ Report notes continuing problems of homophobia in our schools.

The newly-published 2014 Stonewall Teachers Report into teachers’ perceptions of, attitudes to, and ways of dealing with homophobic bullying in schools makes depressing reading at how little things have improved since the last report in 2009. Above all it shows that despite the efforts of organisations such as Stonewall to produce excellent teaching material, very few teachers feel adequately prepared for being able to deal with these problems.

Among the key findings were:

(1.) Only 6% of primary school teachers and 17% of secondary school teachers say that they have received what they consider to be adequate training on tackling homophobic bullying.
(2.) 86% of secondary school teachers and 45% of primary say pupils in their schools have experienced homophobic bullying.
(3.) 89% of secondary school teachers and 70% of primary school reported pupils used homophobic expressions.
(4.) 55% of secondary school teachers and 425 of primary said that they did not always challenge homophobic language EVERY time they heard it.
(5.) 33% of secondary school teachers say they have never addressed issues of sexual orientation in the classroom. The figure for same sex families is 56%.
(6.) More than a third of secondary school teachers and nearly a third of primary teachers have heard other staff use homophobic language.

Comparing this survey with the previous one in 2009, Stonewall conclude that there has been no improvement in the proportion of teachers who believe that their head teacher or governing body demonstrate leadership in tackling homophobic bullying. Even worse, a large number of teachers felt that they were either not entitled to or did not have the competence to talk about these matters in the classroom. Clause 28 continues to cast a long shadow.

What Needs To Be Done

Gove should implement LGBT-inclusive PSHE to help deal with these grave problems within our educational system.

What this report underlines is that there is no overall strategy for combating homophobic bullying in schools, nor any monitoring the effectiveness of what there is – not least among the victims. Until we have compulsory LGBT-inclusive PSHE in all schools with proper status, teacher training, resources,and monitoring the situation is unlikely to improve much – despite the heroic efforts of organisations such as Stonewall. To leave it to the individual schools as Michael Gove does amounts to criminal irresponsibility. The Secretary of State should be protecting young people – not leaving them in fear and ignorance.

 By Colin Livett.



Diana speaking in the House of Commons
Diana speaking in the House of Commons

Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network are delighted to announce that Diana Johnson has been overwhelmingly readopted as Labour Candidate for Hull North.

Diana has been exemplary in her support for LGBT causes. Last year she presented our petition calling for the outlawing of conversion therapy and was a leading advocate of Equal Marriage (see picture below).

Diana was a stalwart champion of Equal Marriage for LGBT Couples.


Diana played a pivotal part in the setting up of our network. This year she has supported our campaign for compulsory SRE Inclusive PSHE Education and has worked with Stonewall on the particular problems faced by homeless LGBT youngsters. She has also been a leading campaigner against violence against women.

In addition to that, Diana has been a doughty champion of the people of Hull, who have been so hard hit by the Coalition-induced austerity. We wish Diana well and look forward to continuing to work with her.

By Colin Livett (Chair, Hull North CLP)


The Hull Daily Mail, in a survey published today 16th. August 201,reports that Diana has been the most active of all the members in Hull and the East Riding in terms of asking parliamentary questions and participating in debates.As well as the activities on LGBT right that we have documented Diana has been particularly active in defending the interests of Hull through such campaigns as that against the unfair treatment of the city as far as government grants to the city are concerned and the improvement of transport links such as rail electrification. Details of the survey can be viewed here www.hulldilymail.co.uk/active-mp.

A new campaign for making Sex and Relationship Education compulsory throughout the education system has been launched by the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Further information is available on their website, and we’d encourage anyone reading this to use the Terrence Higgins Trust’s online tool to email their local MP demanding they make SRE compulsory.

We got in touch with the Trust applauding them for their campaign and received the following warm reply from Keiran Aldred in their organisation:

“We really appreciate your support We agree that SRE should be effectively incorporated into PSHE for all schools which currently it is far from. Without it being integrated and compulsory schools will not be able to plan effectively, provide the resources needed for lessons and teacher training, or ensure there is enough time in the teaching calendar for it to be taught correctly.”

We could not agree more and hope that both Mr Gove and Mr. Hunt are listening. We are eternal optimists!

By Colin Livett.


It has been announced that there is to be an inquiry into PSHE and SRE by the Hose of Commons Education Select Committee. The committee has asked for written submissions by 6th June 2014 on the following questions:

+ Whether PSHE ought to be statutory,either as part of the national curriculum or some other means of entitlement
+ Whether the current accountability system is sufficient to ensure that schools focus on PSHE
+To explore the quality of the overall provision of SRE in schools and the quality of its teaching , includung in primary schools and academies.
+ Whether recent Government steps to supplement the guidance on teaching about sex and relationships, including consent, abuse between teenagers and cyber bullying, are adequate.
+ How the effectiveness of SRE should be measured.

Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network welcome this inquiry and submitted our own evidence to the Inquiry affirming our support for mandatory PSHE, with updated LGBT-inclusive SRE in all schools. The Hull and East Riding LGBT Forum has done likewise. Let us hope the members are persuaded.

Graham Stuart, Tory MP for Beverley and Holderness, is chair of the Education Select Committee.
Graham Stuart, Tory MP for Beverley and Holderness, is chair of the Education Select Committee.

Just in the last few weeks we have had the HIV Positive 19 year old Luke Alexander write an Open Letter to Education Secretary, Michael Gove, saying that “the vast majority of young people have little or no common knowledge about HIV,” despite what is laid down in the national curriculum.

Luke’s concern was borne out in a 2011 survey by the Sex Education Forum, which showed that 1 in 4 young people learned little or nothing about HIV at school. Luke is accusing Gove of negligence in not ensuring adequate SRE throughout the education system.

Now we have the case of a former Hull schoolgirl who was raped at 14 and is petitioning David Cameron to make rape and sexual abuse awareness mandatory throughout the education system . We fully support her and wish her well. Her petition can be accessed via the Change.org website, and we urge you to sign it.

By Colin Livett.


On the 28th January this year the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords combined together to vote down a Labour amendment to the Children and Families Bill which would have made sex education mandatory in all state funded Primary and Secondary Schools. This — unlike the PHSE (Personal, Social, and Health Education) — have included a compulsory element of lessons on same sex relationships and hopefully thereby have helped tackle homophobic bullying as well as health problems among LGBT youngsters. Just days after Nick Clegg called for better cooperation between the parties, to tackle the spread of HIV his members in the Lords voted to perpetuate the ignorance that has and is playing such a large part in its spread. This followed on the defeat of a similar amendment to the same Bill in the Commons earlier in the year.

Also, in March 2013, the Commons defeated an attempt to make Personal Health and Economic Education a statutory requirement in schools. It remains the case that even in those schools under the direct control of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, it would be left to individual schools whether they adopted PHSE and whether such programmes included programmes designed to suit the needs of LGBT students.

At this time Yvette Cooper warned in Pink News that the failure to adopt such a programme would mean that nothing would be done to tackle homophobic bullying in schools. Youngsters were to be left in ignorance and fear with catastrophic effects on their well-being. In the 2013 Labour Party Conference in Brighton, she rightly implored to the Tory Education Secretary:

“Michael, this is the 21st Century – not the 19th. That is why a Labour government will make sure there is updated sex and relationship education for boys and girls, with zero tolerance of violence at its core. And we will make it compulsory too.”

Tories and Lib Dems voted down an amendment for compulsory PSHE, leaving our children in ignorance and fear.

Earlier this year at Hull Pride, the Hull and East Yorkshire Labour LGBT+ Network gathered over 700 signatures on the following petition:

“Recent research has shown that endemic homophobic research in schools has been worsening. This has resulted in high levels of poor mental and sexual health among young LGBT people. We believe that the Government and School Governors and College managers should ensure that effective LGBT education is made an integral part of the PSHE Programme and that this programme be made a part of the curriculum in ALL schools and colleges.”

We believe that this is more relevant and urgent than ever. However it is pointless to send such a petition or an e petition to Michael Gove. We would have more chance of persuading him to make the showing of Blackadder Videos a compulsory part of the teaching of WWI in school History lessons.

What we must do is to ensure that this goes into the Labour Party Manifesto as a firm commitment for the next election And it must apply to ALL schools without exception including Private and Faith Schools. The first Aids awareness Programme was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s. Its slogan was “Dont die of Ignorance.” She then counteracted this by introducing the notorious section 28 — which — shades of Putin — banned the ‘promotion ‘of homosexuality. Now we have section 28 back by the back door and as a result despite the excellent work being done by groups such as Stonewall – who revealed the full extent of the problem in their School Report, and which they have tried to counter through such initiatives as the School Champions Programme. But sadly only one out of three councils – despite the implications of the Equalities Act – are signed up.
The sad truth is that 30 years after the first campaign the government is ensuring not only that youngsters continue to die of ignorance, but also suffer from homophobic bullying and mental health problems.

The continuation of fear and ignorance cannot be justified. The cost in human suffering is too high. We must do what we can to campaign against it and stop it.

Come on Ed Miliband—-make a public commitment. Now.

By Colin Livett

Update: Two Cheers For Ed!

On 20th March, in an interview with Pink News, Ed Miliband confirmed that a Labour Government would make Sex and Relationship Education a statutory requirement for schools. Labour had already made it clear that this should be LGBt inclusive and friendly. He said ‘making sex education in schools compulsory is the right thing to do, it’s the right thing for our young people,it’s the right thing for our country,and we should have the courage of our convictions.’
Indeed we should Mr. Miliband and we hope to hear the Shadow Education Secretary—-who so far seems to have made a vow of silence on the subject—making a load and clear declaration of support on your stand.

We ask you to:

1. Make this a crystal clear Labour Manifesto Pledge—-there is nothing in the Draft Manifesto and the broader PSHE Programme is not mentioned either. Labour has made attempts to pass this into Law since 2010 and been thwarted by the Tories and Liberal Democrats. Please do not run scared from the sound of gunfire from the unelected House of Lords,the doomed Liberal Democrats who we suspect really agree with Labour on this or the prospect of unfriendly headlines in the Daily Mail—-of which you have already had experience and emerged the stronger.Please,as you say ,have the courage of your convictions.

2. Pledge that this will be for ALL schools publicly funded[of whatever variety ] or not. Children cannot be left in ignorance simply because of the type of school they happen to attend. Very few of them made their choice of school after all and yet it is them who will suffer from exclusion.

Then you will get the third cheer Ed!

Colin Livett.


On Wednesday 20th November at 4pm, we’re proud to announce that Parliament “finally” opened its doors to a debate on the heinous problem of conversion therapy, at Westminster Hall. You can find the full text of this 30-minute debate on Hansard here. The debate was arranged by Sandra Osborne MP, the same person who tabled our group’s Early Day Motion against conversion therapy, and we’d just like to place on record our immense gratitude for the excellent, outstanding work she’s done on this issue.

My main reason for writing this blog is just to set out in detail some of the main points covered in the debate and to say a bit about our group’s role in it. This isn’t going to be a particularly short, easy-to-read (or indeed much-read) blog post I’m sure, but I hope it’ll give as comprehensive an account as possible about everything that happened.

After the Early Day Motion was tabled in June 2013 and our petition submitted in July, we were keen to do something else when Parliament came back after the summer recess to sustain the high profile of conversion therapy. We thought of doing either a Westminster Hall Debate or a backbench business debate. Sandra Osborne was contacted about this a few weeks ago and she was very much up to arranging one. We were fortunately helped by the fact that Geraint Davies MP had, soon after becoming aware of the heinous problem of conversion therapy, started his own campaign calling for the regulation of counselling and psychotherapy. Sharon Hodgson MP was also made Labour’s Shadow Minister for Equalities in October’s reshuffle. She was very concerned about the problem and, by sheer coincidence, contacted Diana Johnson’s office to explore arranging a Debate  just as we were sorting things out with Sandra Osborne.

It was very quickly organised and a raft of MPs from all parties were contacted. We were initially hoping for a full 90-minute Westminster Hall Debate but, unfortunately, ended up with a shorter, 30-minute one – and as you can see from the transcript, this left things a bit tight. In the end, we think at least eleven MPs showed up – though because not all spoke and as Hansard doesn’t record attendees, it’s not 100% clear. These were:

– Sandra Osborne MP (Lab, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock).

– Diana Johnson MP (Lab, Hull North and Shadow Crime and Security Minister).

Sandra Diana Sharon Geraint Westminster Hall
Sandra Osborne, Diana Johnson, Sharon Hodgson and Geraint Davies MP were amongst those who attended the debate.

– Sharon Hodgson MP (Lab, Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Equalities Minister).

– Geraint Davies MP (Lab, Swansea West).

– Nia Griffith MP (Lab, Llanelli).

–  Crispin Blunt MP (Con, Reigate).

–  Simon Kirby MP (Con, Brighton Kemptown).

– Iain Stewart (Con, Milton Keynes South).

– Mike Freer (Con, Finchley and Golders Green).

– Andrew Percy (Con, Brigg and Goole).

– Stephen Gilbert (LD, St Austell and Newquay).

– Norman Lamb (LD, North Norfolk and Minister of State for Care and Support), responding for the government.

Sandra Osborne kicked off the debate by setting out the all-too-familiar issues with the practice of conversion therapy before starting to ask the government a set of questions about how they plan to address the problem. Here’s a summary of her key questions to the Minister:


– The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) mandates the public sector to pro-actively drive forward improvements to reduce inequalities for protected minorities, such as LGBT people. This is a vital legislative vehicle for ensuring that the right form of therapy – namely gay affirmative therapy, which starts from the premise that sexuality isn’t an illness and can’t be changed – is offered to LGBT patients, and embedded into the training regimes of university undergraduate courses and professional training sessions. Affirmative therapy isn’t about steam-rolling over a patient’s religious beliefs – quite the opposite. If an LGBT patient has religious convictions, this is about reconciling them.


– Psychotherapy needs to be regulated to ensure that nobody can call themselves one without being part of a professional body. But, in the absence of any willingness to countenance such moves, the least the government could do is ensure that psychotherapists who are not members of professional bodies are not commissioned for services by the NHS, and that there is a clear policy against offering services to non-accredited counsellors and psychotherapists. Government can also implement Practitioner Full Disclosure (PFD): a legal requirement for all therapists – whether in an unregulated profession or not – to make public their full professional history, including any professional bodies they have been struck off from, to better-inform their patients. Last but not least, we have to ensure that the complaints procedures in place for psychotherapist professional bodies are simple, friendly and effective – no good having a complaints procedure if it’s overly-formal or overly-bureaucratic, or if (as some of the psychotherapist organisations do…) they charge members of the public if their complaint is rejected.


– Finally, conversion therapy, at the very least, has to be banned for under-18s and we should certainly explore a full ban. This is part and parcel of a wider need to create what US conversion therapy sufferer Matthew Shurka has called a “red flag”. Restrictions on advertisements are another part. I could expand on this: we might accept that enforcing a full ban might not work in practice, or that a ban for under-18s will still keep conversion therapy for over-18s legal, but that’s not the point. This is all about making sure that everybody knows how heinous, harmful and ineffective conversion therapy is and steering any anxious, vulnerable LGBT people away from going down this route – anything that works towards this goal is helpful.


The Minister’s response was frankly disappointing. He failed to address most, if not virtually all, of the above issues,  saying nothing about banning or restrictions on advertisements and indeed nothing on the Public Sector Equality Duty – so two key planks of the debate there just ignored. He was also very poor on the specifics of psychotherapy regulation and all of the ways (set out above) that they could make the voluntary register more effective. Yet he fully acknowledged that the voluntary register put forward by the government didn’t – and wasn’t intended to – prevent unregulated psychotherapists from practicing. If I could squeeze out a few of the “arguments”, at a push I’d say the following. I copy my counter-points, where relevant, in the footnotes:

– Regulation of psychotherapy won’t address the problem of conversion therapy. Even if psychotherapy were fully-regulated people can, after all, just practice outside this sector. This is a key argument and I’d have expected the Minister to have used it more – there is clearly a debate to be had about regulation, and what form it takes.[1]

– It’s already against NHS rules to commission conversion therapy, and any GP doing can be struck off already. The powers are already there. Moreover, he has found no evidence that Clinical Commissioning Groups or other parts of the NHS have commissioned conversion therapy. [2]

– The main UK psychotherapy organisations have made statements against this, and he is currently consulting with them about making a joint statement against the practice.

– But there seem to be some potential moves on psychotherapy. The government is due to meet with a range of relevant professionals in spring next year, and will also be writing to statutory regulators subject to the progress of the Private Members’ Bill. There appears from his answer to be some prospect for some of the broader issues about inequalities in healthcare and mental health provision for LGBT people, as well as strengthening the voluntary register, to be discussed there. In his answer, he also doesn’t rule out the prospect of psychotherapy regulation in the future – a key concession. Lamb has also committed to meeting with the MPs who attended the debate to discuss the problem.


So where do we go from here? I think the Minister’s response leaves us with a bit of an opening so there’s scope to do quite a bit. The first response should be to write a joint letter to Norman Lamb setting out, in full and with absolute clarity, exactly what the issues with conversion therapy are – and exactly how it can be regulated. This will cover the gaping holes left in Lamb’s response at Westminster Hall and allow a measured, considered response to be made.


[1] My chief problem with this argument, however, is that unlike other professions which aren’t regulated like, for example, “life coach”, I think “psychotherapist” has a bit more ‘umph to it.  People inherently trust the title of “psychotherapist”, quite apart from any qualifications the individual has. Fully-regulating this name will thus have an effect in driving people away from conversion therapy precisely because it would protect a profession which sounds more legitimate than other names out on the market. But there is more to this argument. As Sandra briefly alluded to in her speech, there is a historic link between psychotherapists and conversion therapists. A branch of psychotherapy has continued to propagate conversion. So regulating psychotherapy has an added benefit in this regard. If it were not the case – if dealing with psychotherapy through regulation was to have no effect at all – then why, pray tell, would Core Issues (as Sandra said!) have gone to the effort of lobbying every MP in the Commons to vote against Geraint Davies’ Private Members Bill?

[2] This appears to misunderstand how much conversion therapy might be “commissioned”. Certainly, when I’ve said “commissioning”, formal commissioning at the Clinical Commissioning Group level isn’t quite what I had in mind. There is surely scope for informal de facto passing-on of patients to conversion therapists at local level without anything being written down. That kind of “commissioning” definitely took place in the 1990s if an academic survey of conversion therapists is to believed; and Lesley Pilkington told Patrick Strudwick in 2009-10 that she got her clients from a GP’s surgery – either she’s lying, or they were “commissioned” informally in exactly this way, because they sure as hell didn’t show up on any NHS records of what was commissioned.



Wonder if his wife agrees?
Humberside’s Tory Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Grove, at our stall, next to a “never kissed a Tory” T-shirt. Wonder if his wife agrees?


On 20th-21st July 2013, our network, along with trade unionists and the local Labour party, set up shop at Hull Pride to promote a petition from our newest campaign for stronger LGBT-inclusive Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE)in schools and colleges. We’re pleased to announce that at pride alone, we managed some 727 signatures. In the next year we’ll be gathering signatures for this petition more widely and possibly also launching an E-petition on the issue. The text reads:

“Recent research has shown that endemic homophobic bullying in schools has been worsening. This has resulted in high levels of poor mental and sexual health among young LGBT people. We believe that the government and school and college managers should ensure that effective LGBT education is made an integral part of the PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) Programme and that this be made a compulsory part of the curriculum in ALL schools and colleges.”