LGBT Conversion Therapy: Senior Faith Leaders Call For Ban

by | Dec 18 2020 | Conversion Therapy

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By Alex Ashcroft
Alex heads up LGBT Lawyers' web design and writes about LGBT legal issues in his spare time. While not part of the LGBT community himself, Alex is an avid supporter of LGBT rights. With interests in politics and connections in Brighton's LGBT music scene, Alex brings another valuable perspective to LGBT life.

 | Read Time 3-5 Minutes.

LGBT conversion therapy has changed after more than 370 religious leaders from 35 countries signed a new declaration. The declaration seeks forgiveness for religious practices that have harmed members of the LGBT community. The declaration aims to bring an end to the criminalisation of individuals on the grounds of sexual orientation. Furthermore, the declaration seeks a global ban on LGBT conversion therapy.

The declaration is referred to as “Declaring the Sanctity of Life and the Dignity of All”. The declaration was set for Wednesday the 16th of December at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). It was initiated by the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT lives. However, due to London moving into Tier 3 restrictions, the conference was unfortunately moved online.

The commission’s director was Jayne Ozanne and the signatories included the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and eight other archbishops. Furthermore, other signatories included the former Catholic president of Ireland Mary McAleese, 60 rabbis as well as senior Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists.

The declaration states that people of all sexual orientations, gender expressions and gender identities “are a precious part of creation and are part of the natural order”. It also affirms that, since “all are equal under God”, all should be “treated equally under the law”.

Moreover, the declaration acknowledges that “certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offence” to LGBT+ people. They have “created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice and result in violence”.

What is conversion therapy?

“In the UK, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies, as well as the NHS, have concluded that conversion therapy is dangerous and have condemned it by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (PDF)”

LGBT conversion therapy is a discredited practise which is aimed to alter an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The current conversion therapy is unethical and harmful and is used to suppress an individual’s gender identity. Most practitioners today use quasi-psychoanalytic methods, such as one-on-one or group therapy sessions.

LGBT conversion therapy has a dark history. Methods of conversion therapy include institutionalisation, incarceration and electroshock therapy, according to the National Centre for Lesbian Rights.

A survey conducted in 2018 discovered that out of the 108,000 members of the LGBT community in the UK, 2% had undergone the LGBT conversion therapy and a total of 5% have been offered it. An individual named Joe Hyman told the BBC that his experience of conversion therapies was based online and was aimed to change his sexual desires. Moreover, Joe expressed that the therapy left him feeling empty, desexualised and constantly anxious.

What is the UK doing?

London - LGBT Conversion Therapy Blog

Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool announced

“For too long, religious teachings have been misused – and are still being misused – to cause deep pain and offence to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex. This must change”.

In July it was announced by Boris Johnson that plans to ban LGBT conversion therapy would be brought forward. Following this announcement, the UK Government has funded the conference for the ban on conversion therapy. Furthermore, Sarah Mulley, the Bishop of London, sent a message of “heartfelt encouragement” to the meeting. She also commented, “When Christian teachings are distorted to incite violence, this is a dreadful abuse of the gospel message”.

Dewar Hussain, an important signatory and the chair of New Horizons in British Islam, said, “he had been pushing Muslim organisations to engage with LGBT+ justice” but admitted it was “challenging”.

The UK’s government is yet to release details of the ban. However, they have informed the public that they have commissioned research and would outline its “plan in due course”.

Speak up – support is key for change

If you feel for any reason that a certain therapy or practice is discriminatory, speak up and fight for change. The dark history of LGBT conversion therapy could still be prevalent in today’s society if it weren’t for the campaigners and individuals who fought for change.

LGBT Lawyers understands how vital it is for individuals to report matters of discrimination. We can help you if you have been discriminated, harassed, or victimised because of your sexuality. Please speak up and lets us help.

Hungry for more? 

Take a look at our inforgraphic, “a brief history of LGBT conversion therapy.” 

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