Reports of a Christian registered psychotherapist using ‘Sexual Orientation Change Efforts’ have been met with alarm by the British Humanist Association (BHA). Mrs Lesley Pilkington faces a disciplinary hearing** by the British Association of Psychology and Counselling this week after being reported for trying to ‘convert’ a gay man to being heterosexual.
Mrs Pilkington is reported as saying she uses a biblical framework in an attempt to alter the sexual orientation of patients, believing that ‘everybody is heterosexual but some people have a homosexual problem’. When questioned by the undercover journalist Patrick Strudwick whether homosexuality was ‘a mental illness, an addiction or an anti-religious phenomenon’ Mrs Pilkington is reported to have replied ‘It is all of that’.
Mrs Pilkington’s is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre which ‘exists to promote Christian Truth in the public arena and to protect the freedom of Bible believing Christians’. The Christian Legal Centre has supported a number of cases on alleged unfair dismissal on religious grounds. Recent cases include those of Duke Amachree and Gary MacFarlane, both of of whom lost their cases and were not found to be victims of unlawful religious discrimination.
Naomi Phillips, BHA Head of Public Affairs commented: ‘The notion that homosexuality is a problem that may be ‘cured’ is profoundly objectionable and wrong. It is nothing short of brutal that a therapist would attempt to change a patient’s sexual orientation.
‘It is vital that unsubstantiated and potentially harmful methods cannot be allowed to masquerade as a legitimate practice, and where, regrettably, ‘conversion therapy’ continues to exist, it is not subsidised by public funds. We are pleased that Royal College of Psychiatrists has condemned this practice, and that this case is currently under investigation.’
**UPDATE: As of 20/01/11 – The hearing has been suspended following allegations that an expert witness for Mrs Pilkington had been ‘intimidated’. Speaking to the BHA, Mr Strudwick stated that he had no knowledge that any witnesses had been called in the first place, and was very concerned that the hearing had been postponed.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has condemned conversion therapies, download their position paper here
Read Patrick Strudwick’s 2010 article on gay-to-straight conversion
For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips firstname.lastname@example.org on 020 7079 3585.The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.