At the recent Labour Party Policy Forum , the following statement on Conversion Therapy was issued:

“Labour strongly believes that being LGBT is not an illness and [that] it should never be treated as something that is curable,which is why we believe that public money should never be spent on ‘conversion’ or ‘cure’ therapies. Labour will ensure that existing safeguards are strengthened to prevent this from happening and will examine the effectiveness of the current system of regulation. Labour will work with the professional bodies to ensure that publicly-funded services enforce the Equalities Act 2010.”

There is much to welcome here and it testifies to the success of our campaign that this has at all been stated. But there are far too many limitations. We welcome:

1. The restatement that being LGBT is not a disease and is not curable.
2. That these quack ‘remedies’ should not be funded by the NHS etc,
3. That the existing system of regulation by the professional bodies be examined for its effectiveness. As we have repeatedly pointed out proper regulation ,ensuring that only properly accredited therapists could operate. Since all the professional bodies now outlaw Conversion Therapy that would lead – effectively – to the end of conversion therapy. The great snag of course is that at present anyone can set themselves up as a psychotherapist, without accreditation or regulation and offer whatever ‘therapies’ they wish.
4. There is great potential in pledging that the Equalities At 2010 be utilised to protect LGBT people. Potentially this would ensure that the NHS provided the health services and support systems that LGBT people currently do not get, that schools effectively tackle homophobia and that we have an EFFECTIVE hate crime … and so on.

But the devil is in the detail – or more accurately perhaps in he lack of it – and even more importantly in some glaring omissions.

Earlier this year, Diana Johnson and 14 other MPs wrote to the responsible minister Norman Lamb asking him to ensure the following measures were put into operation in addition to his pledge not use public money to fund such quackery as Conversion Therapy. These were:

1.  Effective training in LGBT-friendly health provision.
2.  Investigate NHS and professional links with conversion therapists.
3. Ensure that CGC’s and other commissioning bodies in the NHS only commission from registered therapists who are registered with bodies who have already condemned conversion therapy.
4. Ensure effective regulation for the counselling and psychotherapy sector.
5. Ensure the EFFECTIVE use of the Public Sector Equality Sector Duty of the Equalities Act 2010.
6. Explore legal restrictions against conversion therapy.

Now,what does Labour’s commitment amount to in practical terms? It says precisely nothing about 6-legal restrictions or indeed points 3 and 4. But certainly elements of 1,2 and 5 will be carried out. In time point 5 could be of immense benefit to LGBT people as will point 1.

We warmly welcome that Labour has ‘come out’ [sorry!] and made a public statement and commitment which – at least in part – is a reaction to the campaigning that we have carried out. But there is one really important omission here.

Given time, and a Labour Government, this policy statement could lead to the effective end of Conversion Therapy and their should be far more effective support for LGBT people in the public services. But that will take time, and it applies ONLY to the public sector, The Private sector could still offer this quackery.

The big omission here is the complete failure to use the law. The government should make the of

A Labour Government should legislate to make conversion therapy illegal, at least for those aged under 18.

fering of conversion therapy under the age of 18 ILLEGAL. It is this group who are the most vulnerable, struggling to come to terms with their sexuality with devastating results—well documented–at home, in school and in society who, not being offered the help and support they need may turn in desperation to conversion therapy.

Put quite simply, this does not work and it does harm . The first duty of the state should be to protect its citizens from harm especially the most vulnerable among whom these LGBT youngsters are. Conversion Therapy for them is nothing other than child abuse and it is the moral duty of any government to stop it. We cannot wait for friendly talks with the therapist bodies to take place. This evil must be stopped now.

We call for conversion therapy for people under the age of 18 to be made illegal. The Coalition Government have ruled that out. Labour has been silent. Labour must be made to make conversion therapy for under-18s illegal – whoever tries to offer it.


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