What’s the problem?

So-called 'conversion therapy' is a harmful pseudo-medical practice promoted by some religious groups. It refers to a range of practices which aim to convert LGBT+ people to their 'correct' gender or sexual orientation.

All reputable health and psychological organisations consider the practice to be ineffective, unethical and harmful. The 'therapy' is usually promoted by religious organisations. 'Conversion therapy' does not include legitimate therapeutic options to assist people struggling with their gender identity or sexual orientation to live more comfortably.

In 2009 Patrick Strudwick's undercover exposé of 'pray away the gay' therapists bought the issue to wider public attention.

A major promoter of 'conversion therapy' is the Core Issues Trust. They promote a narrative that efforts to promote LGBT+ rights are an attack on the family and free speech, and represent a form of anti-Christian persecution.

In June 2018 we welcomed the government's announcement that it will bring forward proposals to end the practice of 'conversion therapy' in the UK.

There is no good evidence this works and we believe it has the potential to cause harm. Often these approaches are based on religious interpretations about sexuality rather than on a researched and informed understanding of sexual orientation.

UK Council for Psychotherapy (2014 consensus statement on 'conversion therapy')

What are we doing?

  • We welcome the government's announcement in June 2018 to bring forward proposals to end the practice of 'conversion therapy' in the UK.
  • In 2009 we wrote to the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) and the British Psychological Society (BPS) to issue guidance to their members not to provide or recommend these therapies, and not to refer people who are confused or distressed about their sexuality to religious groups that promise "cures". Since then, the UK Council for Psychotherapy has released a consensus statement on 'conversion therapy', and all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies have condemned the practice by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with a commitment to ending the practice.

What you can do:

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If you have been referred to 'conversion therapy' by a doctor or healthcare professional and need help making a complaint, please contact us.

More information

  • Memorandum of understanding on conversion therapy (2017) (PDF, 2.2 Mb)

    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 (MoU), with a "commitment to ending the practice". The updated MoU now includes gender identity.

  • Memorandum of understanding on conversion therapy (2015) (PDF, 1012 Kb)

    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 (MoU).
    This MoU did not cover gender identity.

  • UK Council for Psychotherapy consensus statement on 'conversion therapy' (PDF, 227 Kb)

    At the request of the Department of Health this public information was prepared by the UK Council for Psychotherapy with the support and assistance of the British Psychoanalytic Council, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Psychological Society, The National Counselling Society, Pink Therapy, Stonewall, PACE and Relate. June 2014

Dr Christian Jessen goes undercover to investigate 'conversion therapy' in the UK and the US.


While you're here

Religious dogma shouldn't be interfering with your healthcare. Please consider a donation to help support our work in this area.