UK Health Minister urged to address safeguards against conversion therapy

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A cross-party coalition of fifteen members of parliament have penned a letter to the United Kingdom’s Health Minister, Norman Lamb, urging him to address the problem of gay to straight conversion therapy and listing six actions the government should take.

The letter urges ministers to investigate potential links between the National Health Service (NHS) and conversion therapists, look into banning the therapies for those under eighteen, investigate the regulation of counseling, and to properly train mental professionals in an LGBT-friendly way.

A 2009 survey of 1,328 accredited mental health professionals showed that a total of seventeen percent admitted to having assisted at least one client in reducing their same-sex attraction.

While thirty-five percent of the patients were referred to the therapists by general practitioners, it was also found that forty percent of them were actually being treated inside an NHS practice.

The letter states, “Since 20 November, yet more evidence has emerged concerning the dangers of modern-day conversion therapy, with a report by BBC Newsbeat highlighting the plight of an anonymous young woman from West Yorkshire, treated for her sexuality in 2007.

“This adds to the already considerable evidence, both from academia and the press, that conversion therapy is a surprisingly prevalent problem in Britain today; and that it is part of a much broader issue of poor public service provision more generally for the LGBT population.”

Lamb has previously stated that the practice is “utterly abhorrent” but that he had an awareness of the NHS taking on these cases. Despite “not [being]aware that the NHS commissions this type of therapy,” Lamb said they were exploring ways to ensure any form of the practice will not take place in the future.

In November 2013, the government declined to introduce regulations to prevent the practice of conversion therapy.

According to Pink News, Lamb said that while statutory regulation is “sometimes necessary it is not always the most proportionate or effective means of ensuring the safe and effective care of patients.”

429Magazine

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