The Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC) in the United Kingdom, citing the “interests of public safety,” has officially banned therapy aimed at “curing” homosexuality.
The official statement from the UK’s largest organization of Christian counselors reads in part,
There are certain guiding principles arising from ACC Ethics and Practice framework…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.
For this reason, 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. This includes the ACC “Find a counsellor” facility on our website.
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.
Other professional associations have already made statements to similar affect in the UK, including the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Department of Health.
In 2009, the American Psychological Association released an official report, titled “Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation”, stating that it was “unlikely” that such therapy can achieve any of its stated goals, and that they “found that there was some evidence to indicate that individuals experienced harm… negative side effects included loss of sexual feeling, depression, suicidality, and anxiety.”
The ACC’s decision was met with some controversy, however; the Christian group Core Issues Trust responded by demanding that they “provide empirical evidence to support its misleading statement produced on the matter of counseling same-sex attracted persons,” claimed the Equality Act 2010 did not apply to the issue, and implored the ACC to “avoid compromise of its members’ right to teach and uphold orthodox Christian sexual ethics.”
One of the original campaigners in the fight against conversion therapy in the United Kingdom, gay journalist Patrick Strudwick, told Gay Star News, “When even Britain’s Christian counseling organization explains why attempts to convert gay people to heterosexuality through ‘therapy’ are not just nonsense, quack therapy but harmful, you know that we are winning the battle against these dangerous treatments…It will come to be seen, universally, in the same light as throwing unmarried mothers in psychiatric units.”
A spokesperson for Human Rights Campaign, Ellen Kahn, told 429Magazine that “Far too many gay and lesbian youth have been told that they can and should ‘change’ their sexual orientation and efforts to do so have only caused further harm to young people already in fragile relationships with their family and friends. We applaud the efforts…putting an end to false claims by unethical practitioners who should be supporting and affirming our LGBT youth.”