United Kingdom

British health minister calls reparative therapy ‘abhorrent,’ but rules out ban

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb

LONDON — Britain‘s Minister of State for Care and Support (Health), Norman Lamb, told an audience during a special debate in Westminster Hall Wednesday that practitioners trying to convert gay patients to heterosexuality is “wholly abhorrent.”

The debate was attended by Members of Parliament considering imposing regulations on the nation’s psychotherapy sector regarding gay-to-straight conversion (or “reparative”) therapy.

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb

Lamb however, was not willing to call for a ban to be imposed by the UK government.

The debate was called at the request of Labour MP Sandra Osborne, who opposes the therapeutic practice, saying that she considers it “extremely harmful” to patients and little more than “voodoo.”

“Virtually every major national and international professional organization has condemned this practice as ineffective and potentially extremely harmful to patients,” said Osborne. “This is more than just a problem amongst religious fundamentalists, it’s an issue for the NHS and professional sector.”

“We also need to ensure that psychotherapists who aren’t members of professional bodies which explicitly have positions against conversion therapy, are not commissioned by the NHS (National Health Service),” she said.

Lamb said he finds the practice “wholly abhorrent and it has no place in a modern society.”

But he indicated that he was not convinced that regulation of the practice by Parliament was worthwhile: “The Government believes state regulation will not be appropriate, as the cost of registration for therapists and for the taxpayer could not be justified.”

Currently in the UK, there is no minimum level of qualification that needs to be reached in order to practice as a psychotherapist, meaning anyone can set themselves up as a counselor, according to Britain’s Daily Express.

There is a bill set to be debated in Parliament in January, which could lead to regulation of the counseling sector.

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“We’re deeply concerned about voodoo ‘gay-cure’ therapies and their promotion and welcome any efforts from the Government and the UK Council for Psychotherapy to stamp out this damaging practice,” said James Taylor, senior health officer for Stonewall UK, an LGBT rights advocacy organization.

“In 21st century Britain, lesbian, gay and bisexual people should be able to access therapy and counselling services without fear of discrimination or judgement,” said Taylor.

Supporters of the practice include the Christian Religious group, Core Issues, which claimed that there is no evidence that the practice of conversion therapy is harmful, and that any ban would show “an intolerance of those who wish to turn from homosexuality.”

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