The United Kingdom is in the beginning stages of a plan to outlaw so-called “gay conversion therapy,” as part of a larger effort to target homophobia and anti-LGBTQ discrimination nationwide, CNN is reporting.
Sometimes called “reparative therapy,” the practice is based on the premise that homosexuality is a choice, or at least, a mental disorder that can be cured. However, homosexuality has not been considered a mental disorder by the World Health Organization since 1992. Similarly, according to Human Rights Campaign, the American Psychological Association has rejected not only the idea that homosexuality is “abnormal” or a “choice,” but has also deemed that efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation are, at best, pointless, and at worst, cruel.
However, “Reparative Therapy” practitioner Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, by way of example, claims that several of his clients have “overcome” homosexuality through his practice.
As of this writing, the practice has been banned, at least on minors, in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as several cities and counties. As of this writing, there is no federal ban on the practice, and Vice President Mike Pence is fully supportive of the practice, at one time even advocating allowing federal funds for clinics to use the practice, according to the New York Times.
Back in the United Kingdom, the gay conversion therapy ban is just the tip of the iceberg, and is part of a far-reaching effort to address homophobia in the nation. The efforts follow a survey of 108,000 LGBTQ Britons about the issues they face.
Two percent, for example, said they’d been “treated” with gay conversion therapy, while 5 percent said they’ve been offered it. Twenty-three percent said that their sexual orientation had affected them negatively in the workplace; 40 percent said that they’ve been victims of “hate incidents”; and more than two thirds of participants say they’ve avoided holding hands with their partners in public for fear of backlash.
The survey shocked Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May.
“No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love. This LGBT action plan will set out concrete steps to deliver real and lasting change across society, from health and education to tackling discrimination and addressing the burning injustices that LGBT people face.”
But Ruth Hunt, chief executive of the British LGBT rights group Stonewall, wasn’t surprised at all.
“Some people will be shocked by the findings. But for anyone who is LGBT, or has a family member or friend who is, these results will be sadly recognizable.”
It is unclear, as of this writing, when the U.K. gay conversion therapy ban will take effect.