In the summer of 2012, just after launching our network, the Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network initiated a campaign against gay-to-straight conversion therapy in the UK.
A lot of things were on our mind when we launched this campaign, not least the shocking evidence set out by the Independent’s Patrick Strudwick, in an under-cover investigation for the Independent, that British conversion therapists were working as accredited counsellors and psychotherapists and even getting patients from their local GPs surgeries. So we wanted to campaign to raise the profile of this issue
Fast-forward to today and – in part we feel due to the efforts of our campaign and the excellent support of a range of other LGBT organisations – politicians are now, at last, talking about the issue of gay conversion therapy, and LGBT mental health more broadly.
We have since broadened our focus to look at other issues including LGBT domestic abuse and PSHE in schools, but our campaign against conversion therapy continues and we remain open to suggestions and input, but we have kept this web page as a record of the milestones in our campaign so far.
Below, you can find a timeline setting out all the key events since 2012 in the fight against gay-to-straight conversion therapy in the UK. The LGBT community owes a huge debt to a vast range of organisations and individuals who have campaigned on this issue, both in the UK and abroad, but we feel that we did contribute something to the position we are in today – a position infinitely better than it was in 2012, when this campaign started. To at least some extent, we can proudly say that this campaign was “Made in Hull.”
“Made in Hull”
Conversion Therapy Campaign Timeline
April: Launch of our Network.
May: We decide on gay-to-straight conversion therapy as our Network’s first campaign.
July: Petition to Parliament launched, calling on the Government to do more to address the problem. It is uploaded on our newly-created hulllabourlgbt.net website, and distributed at Hull Pride, where over 700 signatures are gathered with the support of numerous Labour members, MPs and councillors including Diana Johnson MP and councillors Julie Connor, Rosie Nicola and Suzie Armstrong.
November: For the first time, Hull North MP Diana Johnson raises the issue of conversion therapy to in Parliament, in a Written Parliamentary Question to Health Minister Norman Lamb MP. It receives coverage in Pink News. We then contact Scott Roberts, Pink News’ deputy editor, about our campaign. He takes a strong interest and Pink News subsequently give coverage to our paper petition.
January: The Core Issues Trust, a pro-conversion therapy organisation in the UK, sponsors a pro-conversion meeting in Parliament. This same trust had previously been banned from advertising gay cure adverts on London buses. In the same month, the British Psychological Society also publishes a Position Statement against gay conversion therapy. The two largest counselling and psychotherapy professional bodies had already made statements against the practice: the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) in October 2012; and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) in early 2010. This means that many of the main professional bodies had now made statements condemning the practice, but given the regulatory status of this profession, not all counsellors and psychotherapists were required to be members of these bodies.
February: Our network starts reaching out to national and local LGBT organisations across the country to ask for their support for our paper petition. The LGBT sections of trade unions and University LGBT clubs are also later contacted. Petition sheets come in from across the country.
March: With the help of the Network, the Hull University Labour Club submit a motion to Labour Students’ conference condemning gay conversion therapy, and succeed in getting it passed.
May: Diana Johnson MP and one of our Network’s members co-write an article in Pink News highlighting the issue of gay-to-straight conversion therapy, which gets widespread coverage online and in social media.
June: Labour’s Sandra Osborne MP, alongside a cross-party group of co-sponsors, tables an Early Day Motion condemning the practice of conversion therapy and calling on the Government to do more to address the practice. This EDM was drafted by the network, and we also arranged for the sponsors. We publish a template email on our website which people can use to lobby their MPs to sign the EDM, and publicise its existence to LGBT organisations across the UK. It gains coverage in Pink News, and some 55 MPs ultimately sign the EDM.
July: Diana Johnson MP formally submits our paper petition to Parliament, containing some 2,002 signatures from across the country, and with support from more than 40 different organisations throughout the UK, including trade unions. It gains coverage in Pink News. Politics.co.uk also host a guest article by our network, publicising the issue.
October: Labour MP Geraint Davies – who in June had signed the EDM after being lobbied by a local LGBT group we were in contact with; and wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt urging him to ban conversion therapy – publishes a Private Members’ Bill against conversion therapy. There is not enough time to debate it in Parliament, but it gains widespread coverage in the LGBT press.
November: With the help of our network, Labour’s Sandra Osborne MP arranges for a debate in Parliament’s Westminster Hall on the practice of conversion therapy. There is cross-party condemnation of the practice, and it subsequently gains coverage in Pink News, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and Politics.co.uk.
December: BBC Newsbeat broadcasts case studies from individuals who have undergone gay-to-straight conversion therapy, one of them as recently as 2007. Some of these individuals were contacted with the help of our Network.
January: The Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC) – a professional body for counsellors and psychotherapists which had previously had Lesley Pilkington, one of the psychotherapists who attempted to cure Independent journalist Patrick Strudwick, as a registrant – finally publishes a statement against gay conversion therapy, promising to strike off any of its registrants who engage in the practice. Subsequently, in February, both Pilkington and the Core Issues trust are denied accreditation with the ACC, following a request by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which has a role in accrediting professional bodies in the counselling and psychotherapy sector.
February: At the request of the Department of Health, a range of professional organisations, alongside Stonewall, publish a joint consensus statement against conversion therapy. Some of these organisations had not previously made statements against the practice.
March: With the network’s help, a cross-party group of 15 MPs, led by Diana Johnson MP, co-sign a letter to Health Minister Norman Lamb calling on him to do more to address the problem of gay conversion therapy. In April,
April: In response to the letter, Health Minister Norman Lamb confirms that conversion therapy should have no place in the NHS, and makes clear that he has sought assurances from NHS England that they do not make referrals for such treatment. The Guardian give coverage to his statement, the joint letter and Sandra Osborne’s Westminster Hall Debate.
June: The Network makes a submission to Labour’s Health and Care Policy Commission on Gay-to-Straight Conversion Therapy and health provision in the LGBT Community more broadly.
January: Fourteen organisations, including NHS England and the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), publish a joint memorandum of understanding against conversion therapy. BBC Newsbeat reports on the memorandum, which makes clear that none of the signatories support conversion therapy and will not encourage its practice amongst staff.