by Randall S. Frederick
So-called “conversion therapy,” sometimes known as “reparative therapy,” is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Such practices have been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades, but due to continuing discrimination and societal bias against LGBTQ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy. Minors are especially vulnerable, and conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.
Some right-wing religious groups promote the concept that an individual can change their sexual orientation or gender identity, either through prayer or other religious efforts, or through so-called “reparative” or “conversion” therapy. The research on such efforts has disproven their efficacy, and also has indicated that they can be affirmatively harmful. Beyond studies focused solely on reparative therapy, broader research clearly demonstrates the significant harm that societal prejudice and family rejection has on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, particularly youth. Furthermore, there is significant anecdotal evidence of harm to LGBTQ people resulting from attempts to change their sexual orientation and gender identity. Based on this body of evidence, every major medical and mental health organization in the United States has issued a statement condemning the use of conversion therapy.
Research on the Impacts of Reparative Therapy, Harms Caused by Societal Prejudice
In 2007, a task force of the American Psychological Association undertook a thorough review of the existing research on the efficacy of conversion therapy. Their report noted that there was very little methodologically sound research on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCEs) and that the “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through SOCE.” In addition, the task force found that “there are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom.” Read the full report.
In short, there is clear evidence that conversion therapy does not work, and some significant evidence that it is also harmful to LGBTQ people.
In contrast, there is ample evidence that societal prejudice causes significant medical, psychological and other harms to LGBTQ people. For example, research on the issue of family acceptance of LGBTQ youth conducted at San Francisco State University found that “compared with LGBTQ young people who were not rejected or were only a little rejected by their parents and caregivers because of their gay or transgender identity, highly rejected LGBTQ young people were:
- More than 8 times more likely to commit suicide.
- Nearly 6 times more likely to report high levels of depression.
- More than 3 times more likely to use illegal drugs.
- More than 3 times more likely to be at high risk for HIV and STDs.
Which is why it is important to immediately and strongly denounce anyone who claims conversion therapy, a pseudoscience, “works” or should be entertained, given a chance, or is supported by evidence. It is not. Not be any credible organization.
This week, a video promoting gay ‘cure’ therapy to young people received more than 1.5 million views. The practice defies not just logic, but also the consensus reached by medical, psychological and therapeutic organisations across the world. Experts overwhelmingly agree that attempts to cure sexuality are futile, misguided, and often actually harmful. Attempts to force teens to repress their sexuality has been linked to depression, self-harm and even suicide, but when presented with a slick, professionally-shot video, it’s easy to forget what the experts actually think. As proponents of gay ‘cure’ therapy take to the Internet to target vulnerable gay people, we take a look at everyone who has disavowed the practice.
Here is a very incomplete list of expert organisations that have disavowed gay ‘cure’ therapy.
American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry
“Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful. There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated.”
Practice Parameter on Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Orientation, Gender Nonconformity, and Gender Discordance in Children and Adolescents.
American Academy of Pediatrics
The association that represents 64,000 pediatricians across the US has disavowed gay cure therapy. “Confusion about sexual orientation is not unusual during adolescence. Counseling may be helpful for young people who are uncertain about their sexual orientation or for those who are uncertain about how to express their sexuality and might profit from an attempt at clarification through a counseling or psychotherapeutic initiative. Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.”
Homosexuality and Adolescence, Pediatrics.
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
“[T]he association does not consider homosexuality a disorder that requires treatment, and as such, we see no basis for [reparative therapy]. AAMFT expects its members to practice based on the best research and clinical evidence available.”
AAMFT Position on Couples and Families.
American College of Physicians
“The College opposes the use of “conversion,” “reorientation,” or “reparative” therapy for the treatment of LGBTQ persons.”
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Disparities: Executive Summary of a Policy Position Paper From the American College of Physicians
American Counseling Association
“The belief that same-sex attraction and behavior is abnormal and in need of treatment is in opposition to the position taken by national mental health organizations, including ACA. The ACA Governing Council passed a resolution in 1998 with respect to sexual orientation and mental health. This resolution specifically notes that ACA opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation. . . . In 1999, the Governing Council adopted a statement ‘opposing the promotion of reparative therapy as a cure for individuals who are homosexual.’ . . .
[T]he ACA Ethics Committee strongly suggests that ethical professional counselors do not refer clients to someone who engages in conversion therapy or, if they do so, to proceed cautiously only when they are certain that the referral counselor fully informs clients of the unproven nature of the treatment and the potential risks and takes steps to minimize harm to clients. . . . This information also must be included in written informed consent material by those counselors who offer conversion therapy despite ACA’s position and the Ethics Committee’s statement in opposition to the treatment. To do otherwise violates the spirit and specifics of the ACA Code of Ethics.”
Ethical Issues Related to Conversion or Reparative Therapy.
American Medical Association
“Our AMA… opposes, the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”
Their official position reads as follows. “The American Medical Association (AMA) supports the equal rights, privileges and freedom of all individuals and opposes discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin or age.
The body “believes that the physician’s nonjudgmental recognition of patients’ sexual orientations, sexual behaviors, and gender identities enhances the ability to render optimal patient care in health as well as in illness.” A resolution passed by the body “opposes, the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy for sexual orientation or gender identity”.
American Psychiatric Association
… In 1997 APA produced a fact sheet on homosexual and bisexual issues, which states that “there is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of “reparative therapy” as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation.”
The potential risks of “reparative therapy” are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone “reparative therapy” relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian are not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed…
Therefore, APA opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as “reparative” or “conversion” therapy, that is based on the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or is based on the a priori assumption that the patient should change his or her homosexual orientation.
Position Statement on Psychiatric Treatment and Sexual Orientation).
American Psychoanalytic Association
“As with any societal prejudice, bias against individuals based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression negatively affects mental health, contributing to an enduring sense of stigma and pervasive self-criticism through the internalization of such prejudice.
Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass purposeful attempts to ‘convert,’ “repair,” change or shift an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Such directed efforts are against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized attitudes.”
Position Statement on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression.
American Psychological Association
“THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association affirms that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association reaffirms its position that homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder and opposes portrayals of sexual minority youths and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association encourages mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation when providing assistance to individuals distressed by their own or others’ sexual orientation…”
Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts.
American School Counselor Association
“The professional school counselor works with all students through the stages of identity development and understands this may be more difficult for LGBTQ youth. It is not the role of the professional school counselor to attempt to change a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Professional school counselors do not support efforts by licensed mental health professionals to change a student’s sexual orientation or gender as these practices have been proven ineffective and harmful but instead to provide support to LGBTQ students to promote student achievement, personal well-being, and social development. Professional school counselors are committed to the affirmation of all youth regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression and work to create safe and affirming schools.”
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) youth often begin to experience self-identification during their pre-adolescent or adolescent years, as do heterosexual youth. These developmental processes are essential cognitive, emotional and social activities, and although they may have an impact on student development and achievement, they are not a sign of illness, mental disorder or emotional problems nor do they necessarily signify sexual activity.”
American School Health Association
“[T]he American School Health Association . . . expects that comprehensive sexuality education in schools will be scientifically accurate and based on current medical, psychological, pedagogical, educational and social research . . . [and recommends] that teachers be well-trained and competent to teach sexuality education as defined by . . . insight into and acceptance of their own personal feelings and attitudes concerning sexuality topics so personal life experiences do not intrude inappropriately into the educational experience.”
Quality Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
National Association of School Psychologists
The National Association of School Psychologists, a professional association that represents more than 25,000 school psychologists, graduate students, and related professionals throughout the United States and 25 other countries, has disavowed gay cure therapy.
“We must rely on retrospective studies to understand the dangers of CT because it is unethical for researchers and mental health professionals to provide a treatment that is known to be harmful… CT has been shown to worsen internalized homophobia, interrupt healthy identity development, increase depression, anxiety, self-hatred, and self-destructive behaviors, and create mistrust of metal health professionals.”
National Association of Social Workers
“People seek mental health services for many reasons. Accordingly, it is fair to assert that lesbians and gay men seek therapy for the same reasons that heterosexual people do. However, the increase in media campaigns, often coupled with coercive messages from family and community members, has created an environment in which lesbians and gay men often are pressured to seek reparative or conversion therapies, which cannot and will not change sexual orientation. Aligned with the American Psychological Association’s (1997) position, NCLGB [NASW’s National Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues] believes that such treatment potentially can lead to severe emotional damage. Specifically, transformational ministries are fueled by stigmatization of lesbians and gay men, which in turn produces the social climate that pressures some people to seek change in sexual orientation. No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful.”
Position Statement, “Reparative” and “Conversion” Therapies.
National Health Service
NHS England and NHS Scotland have both signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK, that disavowed gay cure therapy.
The document prohibits commissioning and referrals to gay cure therapy services. It says: “The practice of conversion therapy, whether in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, is unethical and potentially harmful.
“Neither sexual orientation nor gender identity in themselves are indicators of a mental disorder.”
“Organisations that work in the provision of mental or psychological health delivery or commissioning, such as the NHS, will seek to ensure they do not commission or provide conversion therapy.”
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO): Regional Office of the World Health Organization
Services that purport to “cure” people with non-heterosexual sexual orientation lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said in a position statement launched on 17 May, 2012, the International Day against Homophobia. The statement calls on governments, academic institutions, professional associations and the media to expose these practices and to promote respect for diversity.
Statement, “Therapies” to change sexual orientation lack medical justification and threaten health.
Just the Facts Coalition (American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of School Administrators, American Counseling Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Counselor Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Social Workers, national Education Association, School Social Work Association of America)
“The most important fact about ‘reparative therapy,’ also sometimes known as ‘conversion’ therapy, is that it is based on an understanding of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major health and mental health professions. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers, together representing more than 477,000 health and mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus there is no need for a ‘cure.’”
Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel.
World Psychiatric Association
“There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish, and they can be potentially harmful (Rao and Jacob 2012). The provision of any intervention purporting to ‘treat’ something that is not a disorder is wholly unethical.
“WPA considers same-sex attraction, orientation, and behaviour as normal variants of human sexuality. It recognises the multi-factorial causation of human sexuality, orientation, behaviour, and lifestyle. It acknowledges the lack of scientific efficacy of treatments that attempt to change sexual orientation and highlights the harm and adverse effects of such ‘therapies’.”
WPA Position Statement on Gender Identity and Same-Sex Orientation, Attraction, and Behaviours
The International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses
The ISPN warns that potential negative outcomes of gay conversion therapy “include anxiety, depression, avoidance of intimacy, sexual dysfunction, PTSD, loss of self-confidence and self-efficacy, shame/guilt, self-destructive behavior, and suicidality.
The body says: “The International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses (ISPN) believes that there is a critical need for increased awareness of and attention to the potential threat that ‘reparative therapy’ poses to the health and well-being of lesbian, gay and bisexual persons.
“The ISPN does not view homosexuality as a mental disorder requiring treatment.
“ISPN supports the education of nurses and health care providers regarding accurate information about sexual orientation. and appropriate therapeutic interventions with this population. Addressing bias or unfounded beliefs about same-gender orientation is imperative. ISPN further supports the education of nurses, other health care providers and the lesbian and gay community on the necessary skills and development of sensitivities needed to appropriately address the professional, ethical and public concerns about ‘reparative or conversion therapies.’
“These therapies have questionable outcomes regarding effectiveness in actually changing a person’s sexual orientation.”
The Australian Psychological Society
The professional association of psychologists in Australia, which has more than 20,500 members, has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It said: “The APS also strongly opposes any approach to psychological practice or research that attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation.
“There is no peer-reviewed empirical psychological research objectively documenting the ability to ‘change’ an individual’s sexual orientation.
“Furthermore, there is no peer-reviewed empirical psychological research demonstrating that homosexuality or bisexuality constitutes a disorder. In addition to the lack of empirical support for the claim that sexual orientation can be changed, empirical evidence indicates that attempts at changing sexual orientation can be harmful.”
The Norwegian Psychiatric Association
The association of psychiatrists in Norway has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It said: “Homosexuality is no disorder or illness, and can therefore not be subject to treatment.
“A ‘treatment’ with the only aim of changing sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual must be regarded as ethical malpractice, and has no place in the health system.”
The Brazilian Federal Council of Psychology
Brazil’s federal council became the first to ban the practice in 1999, when it disavowed gay cure therapy.
The body directed: “Psychologists shall not collaborate in events or services offering treatment and cure for homosexuality.
“Psychologists will neither pronounce nor participate in public speeches, in the mass media, reinforcing social prejudice related to homosexuals as pursuing any kind of psychological disorder.”
The Indian Psychiatric Association
The IPS has distanced itself from gay cure therapy and thought it has refrained from condemning the practice, it has recognized no evidence to support it.
It said in a statement: “Based on existing scientific evidence and good practice guidelines from the field of psychiatry, Indian Psychiatric Society would like to state that there is no evidence to substantiate the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness or a disease” and that “IPS will issue a more detailed statement in due course of time” addressing the absence of any medical, psychological, ethical or academic evidence in support of the practice.
The Lebanese Psychiatric Society
The organisation representing psychiatrists in Lebanon has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It said: “Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and does not need to be treated.
“Homosexuality in itself does not cause any defect in judgment, stability, reliability or social and professional abilities.
“The assumption that homosexuality is a result of disturbances in the family dynamic or unbalanced psychological development is based on wrong information.”
The South African Society of Psychiatrists
The organisation representing psychiatrists in South Africa has disavowed gay cure therapy.
The body states: “There is no scientific evidence that reparative or conversion therapy is effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation. There is, however, evidence that this type of therapy can be destructive”
The American Psychological Association
The largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States, which has around 117,500 members, has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It has passed a string of policies that state that “psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed” adding that “homosexuality is not an illness, does not require treatment, and is not changeable.”
“Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation,” said Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD.
“Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.”
Glassgold added: “At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex.”
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
The body representing marriage therapists across the US has disavowed gay cure therapy.
A statement says: “The association does not consider homosexuality a disorder that requires treatment, and as such, we see no basis for such therapy. AAMFT expects its members to practice based on the best research and clinical evidence available.”
The American Counseling Association
The organisation representing licensed professional counselors, counseling students, and other counseling professionals has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It says: “The belief that same-sex attraction and behavior is abnormal and in need of treatment is in opposition to the position taken by national mental health organizations, including ACA.
“ACA opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation.
“The ACA Ethics Committee strongly suggests that ethical professional counselors do not refer clients to someone who engages in conversion therapy.”
The body adds that allowing conversion therapy to go ahead without informed consent about its unproven nature “violates the spirit and specifics of the ACA Code of Ethics.”
The Canadian Psychological Association
Canada’s leading organisation representing psychologists has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It says: “The Canadian Psychological Association opposes any therapy with the goal of repairing or converting an individual’s sexual orientation, regardless of age. Conversion therapy, or reparative therapy, refers to any formal therapeutic attempt to change the sexual orientation
of bisexual, gay and lesbian individuals to heterosexual.
“Scientific research does not support the efficacy of conversion or reparative therapy.
“Conversion or reparative therapy can result in negative outcomes such as distress, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, a feeling of
personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships, and sexual dysfunction.
“There is no evidence that the negative effects of conversion or reparative therapy counterbalance any distress caused by the social stigma and prejudice these individuals may experience.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada
The public health agency of the Government of Canada has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It said: “A student’s sexual orientation is not a ‘lifestyle’ choice and under no circumstances should a student be counselled to change or attempt to ‘repair’ their sexual orientation.
“These kinds of ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapies have been criticized and discouraged by the American Psychological Association and by many teacher associations across Canada.
“Clinical research has demonstrated that these approaches are largely ineffective, ignore the impact of social stigmatization on mental health, and in some cases, can be extremely dangerous, particularly for vulnerable youth.
“Instead of attempting to change a student’s sexual orientation, educators, administrators, and health care professionals should focus on helping the youth and their family to develop active coping mechanisms to address issues related to internalized homophobia, stigma, prejudice and discrimination”
The UK Council for Psychotherapy
The UKCP which represents psychotherapists across the UK, has disavowed gay cure therapy.
The UKCP says: “We have campaigned for some years against conversion or ‘reparative’ therapy. We believe that it is an ethical offence for one of our members to offer or conduct such therapy.
“It is exploitative for a psychotherapist to offer treatment that might ‘cure’ or ‘reduce’ same sex attraction as to do so would be offering a treatment for which there is no illness.”
“UKCP, along with 12 other organisations including NHS England, NHS Scotland and the Royal College of GPs, have signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Conversion Therapy in the UK.
“This new MoU makes it clear that conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation is unethical, potentially harmful and is not supported by evidence.”
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
The BACP, a professional body representing counselling and psychotherapy with over 44000 members, has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It says: “The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) is dedicated to social diversity, equality and inclusivity of treatment without discrimination of any kind.
“BACP opposes any psychological treatment such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder, or based on the premise that the client/patient should change his/her sexuality.
“BACP recognises the PAHO/WHO (2012) recent position statement that practices such as conversion or reparative therapies ‘have no medical indication and represent a severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons’.
“BACP recognises that the diversity of human sexualities is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment.
“BACP believes that socially inclusive, non-judgemental attitudes to people who identify across the diverse range of human sexualities will have positive consequences for those individuals, as well as for the wider society in which they live.
“There is no scientific, rational or ethical reason to treat people who identify within a range of human sexualities any differently from those who identify solely as heterosexual.”
The British Psychological Society
The BPS, the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK, has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It says: “The BPS believes that people of same-sex sexual orientations should be regarded as equal members of society with the same rights and
“This includes freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere, and a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change or ‘convert’ sexual orientation.
“The BPS believes that people of all genders and identities should be regarded as equal members of society and protected from potentially damaging therapies and pathologising “
“Recent publicised efforts to repathologise homosexuality by claiming that it can be ‘cured’ are rarely guided by rigorous scientific or psychological research, but often by religious and political forces opposed to full civil rights for people of same-sex sexual orientations.
“In recent years, noted proponents of ‘reparative’ therapy have integrated older psychoanalytic theories that pathologise homosexuality with traditional religious beliefs condemning homosexuality.”
The British Psychoanalytic Council
The professional association representing psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It said: “The British Psychoanalytic Council opposes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It does not accept that a homosexual orientation is evidence of disturbance of the mind or in development.
“In psychoanalytic psychotherapy, it is the quality of people’s relationships which are explored, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual.
“There must be no discrimination in the selection or progression of those who wish to train, who are training and who train others in psychoanalytically‐informed practice.
“Aptitude for psychoanalytic work, from the selection of candidates to the appointment of training and supervising analyst or therapist roles, is assessed across many areas and not on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The Royal College of Psychiatrists
The UK’s professional body responsible for education and training, and setting and raising standards in psychiatry has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It says: “The College holds the view that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are and should be regarded as valued members of society, who have exactly similar rights and responsibilities as all other citizens.
“This includes equal access to healthcare, the rights and responsibilities involved in a civil partnership/marriage, the rights and responsibilities involved in procreating and bringing up children, freedom to practise a religion as a lay person or religious leader, freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere and a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change sexual orientation.
“Leading therapy organisations across the world have published statements warning of the ineffectiveness of treatments to change sexual orientation, their potential for harm and their influence in stigmatising lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
“The College believes strongly in evidence-based treatment. There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Systematic reviews carried out by both the APA and Serovich et al suggest that studies which have shown conversion therapies to be successful are seriously methodologically flawed.
“Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish, and there is evidence that they are potentially harmful.
“The College considers that the provision of any intervention purporting to ‘treat’ something which is not a disorder is wholly unethical.
“The College would not support a therapy for converting people from homosexuality any more than we would do so from heterosexuality.”
The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
The BABCP, an interest group for people involved in the practice and theory of behaviour therapy, has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK.
The document prohibits commissioning and referrals to gay cure therpay services.
It says: “The practice of conversion therapy, whether in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, is unethical and potentially harmful.
“Neither sexual orientation nor gender identity in themselves are indicators of a mental disorder.”
The Association of Christian Counselors
The ACC, a professional body set up to represent Christian counselors and facilitate quality counselling across the UK, has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It said: “There are certain guiding principles arising from ACC Ethics and Practice framework. These guiding principles apply when deciding what is appropriate in practice or for any therapeutic model.
“We have considered Reparative (or Conversion) Therapy by these principles and have decided that it does not fit the above criteria for the following reasons.
“(i) Its language implies that sexuality can be ‘repaired’ and so introduces the idea of treatment or cure.
“(ii) Where it is proposed, advertised, or practiced as a therapy, it suggests that a specific outcome is possible and appears to make an a-priori assumption that it should happen. This would not fit any of the above guiding principles.
“(iii) It is incompatible with the Equality Act 2010.”
It adds: “”We do not endorse Reparative or Conversion Therapy or any model that implies a predetermined direction of outcome of counselling at the outset.
“We recognize that such models have the potential to impose situational demands on the client at a time of vulnerability with the potential to create harm and therefore view them as incompatible within the ethos of counselling.
“Members who are considering using this model of therapy should neither commence nor continue to use it and any advertising or promotional material should be replaced immediately, or at least removed from current use.
“We recognize that this is not the view of some of our members but in the interests of public safety we have decided to make clear what is expected by those who choose to be part of ACC. “
The National Counselling Society
The National Counselling Society, which accredits counsellors, psychotherapists, hypnotherapists and psychologists across the UK, has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It said: “We wish to state that the practice of conversion therapy has no place in the modern world. It is unethical and harmful and not supported by evidence.
Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses.
“Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.”
Dr Chris Forester, Chair of the NCS states “I am delighted that the NCS has been involved in drafting this statement.
“We fully support the endeavours of organisations such as Pink Therapy and Stonewall to ensure that issues of equality and diversity are fully addressed by the counselling and psychotherapy profession.
“We continue to welcome expertise from these organisations, as well as our own members, to ensure that our own policies and practices reflect and protect equality and diversity in the best possible way.”
The American Academy of Physician Assistants
The organisation representing 104,000 certified PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It says: “The American Academy of Physician Assistants opposes any psychiatric treatment directed specifically at changing sexual orientation, such as ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual orientation.”
The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists
The organisation for to sexuality educators, sexuality counselors and sex therapists has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It says: “AASECT takes the position that having a non-heterosexual sexual orientation, that being transgender and that being gender non-conforming, are not mental disorders.
“We oppose any ‘reparative’ or conversion therapy that seeks to ‘change’ or ‘fix’ a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“AASECT does not believe that non-heterosexual sexual orientation or being transgender or gender non-conforming is something that needs to be ‘fixed’ or ‘changed.’
“Reparative therapy (for minors, in particular) is often forced or non-consensual. Reparative therapy has been proven harmful to minors.
“There is no scientific evidence supporting the success of these interventions. Reparative therapy has been shown to be a negative predictor of psychotherapeutic benefit.”
The American Federation of Teachers
The labour union that represents 1.5 million teachers across the US has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It endorsed the findings of the Just The Facts Coalition, which wrote that such therapies “have serious potential to harm young people because they present the view that the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth is a mental illness or disorder, and they often frame the inability to change one’s sexual orientation as a personal and moral failure.
“The nation’s leading professional medical, health, and mental health organizations do not support efforts to change young people’s sexual orientation through therapy and have raised serious concerns about the potential harm from such efforts.
American College of Physicians
The ACP, which represents 148,000 physicians across the US, has disavowed gay cure therapy.
It says: “Available research does not support the use of reparative therapy as an effective method in the treatment of LGBT persons.
“Evidence shows that the practice may actually cause emotional or physical harm to LGBT individuals, particularly adolescents or young persons.
“Research done at San Francisco State University on the effect of familial attitudes and acceptance found that LGBT youth who were rejected by their families because of their identity were more likely than their LGBT peers who were not rejected or only mildly rejected by their families to attempt suicide, report high levels of depression, use illegal drugs, or be at risk for HIV and sexually transmitted illnesses.
“[Research has found that] reparative therapy is associated with the loss of sexual feeling, depression, anxiety, and suicidality.”
The American Bar Association
The association which represents nearly half a million lawyers across the US, has disavowed gay cure therapy. It says: “The American Bar Association recognizes that lesbian, gay, bisexual, 2 transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people have the right to be free from attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“The American Bar Association urges all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments to enact laws that prohibit state-licensed professionals from using conversion therapy on minors.
“The American Bar Association urges all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments to protect minors, particularly minors in their care, from being subjected to conversion therapy by state-licensed professionals.”
The Church of England
The vast majority of conversion therapy practitioners in the West claim they can ‘cure’ people in the name of religion – but the Church has disavowed gay cure therapy.
The Church’s General Synod passed a motion which notes: “Conversion therapy is condemned by professionals as being harmful to LGBT people as it is based on a misguided belief that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is wrong.
“This leads to increased mental health problems for LGBT community due to stigmatisation.
“Given that many practitioners are non-medically trained religious leaders, it is imperative that the Church of England is unequivocal in its condemnation of such harmful practices.”
…and a ton of politicians
Movements to ban gay cure therapy have led to the practice being outlawed in a number of countries, states and regions across the world. The Australian state of Victoria have also banned the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario. Lawmakers in Malta and Switzerland have banned the practice, which has also been banned for minors in nine US states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws or regulations to protect minors from being subjected to conversion therapy by state-licensed mental health providers. Additionally, a growing number of municipalities have enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, and Arizona.
In August of 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s law, which was signed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in 2012. In May of 2015 and again in February of 2016, the United States Supreme Court let stand decisions of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding New Jersey’s law, which was signed by Republican Governor Chris Christie in August of 2013. In February of 2015, a NJ Superior Court judge ruled that misrepresenting homosexuality as a disorder violates the state’s consumer protection laws. Additionally, in June of 2015, the jury in that case found a conversion therapy provider liable for consumer fraud and ordered the provider to pay the plaintiffs for refunds and damages.
In February 2016, the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Southern Poverty Law Center filed a consumer fraud complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against People Can Change, a major provider of conversion therapy. The complaint alleges that People Can Change’s advertisements and business practices which claim they can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity constitute deceptive, false, and misleading practices and can cause serious harm to consumers, all in direct violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The complaint urges the FTC to take enforcement action to stop these deceptive practices and investigate all practitioners making similar claims.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
“Specifically, conversion therapy—efforts to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression —is a practice that is not supported by credible evidence and has been disavowed by behavioral health experts and associations. Conversion therapy perpetuates outdated views of gender roles and identities as well as the negative stereotype that being a sexual or gender minority or identifying as LGBTQ is an abnormal aspect of human development. Most importantly, it may put young people at risk of serious harm”
Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth
Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States
“The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.
As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors….This Administration believes that young people should be valued for who they are, no matter what they look like, where they’re from, the gender with which they identify, or who they love.”
Response to Your Petition on Conversion Therapy
Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York
“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for. New York has been at the forefront of acceptance and equality for the LGBTQ community for decades – and today we are continuing that legacy and leading by example. We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBTQ young people for simply being who they are.”
Governor Cuomo Announces Executive Actions Banning Coverage of Conversion Therapy
Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
“…on issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards. The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”
Gov. Christie Signs Bill Banning Gay Conversion Therapy On Minors
Kate Brown, Governor of Oregon
“There are many things that young people need, but breaking them down based on their sexual or gender identity is not one of them — and in fact, it’s inexcusable. Our young people deserve acceptance, support, and love. To the young people who question their identities, suffer from bullying, or struggle with what it means to come out, today is your day. Your voices have been heard.”
Oregon Gov. Emotionally Signs Conversion Therapy Ban Into Law
Jerry Brown, Governor of California
“These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”
Gov. Jerry Brown bans gay-to-straight therapy for minors
So the next time you see someone claiming that gay people can be “cured”, you know that pretty much every expert in the world thinks they are a liar, a charlatan, or simply an idiot.