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Parliament discusses ban on dangerous ‘gay conversion therapies’

Walton MP Dan Carden

Home Office Minister Sarah Newton MP branded ‘gay conversion therapies’ as homophobic hate crimes that have no place in British society, after Walton MP Dan Carden raised the issue in Parliament citing evidence that a church in his constituency is using starvation as part of a so-called treatment. Humanists UK is alarmed by reports of the severity of abuse involved in these programmes and calls upon the UK and devolved governments to enact legislation banning these therapies.

Speaking during Home Office questions, Mr Carden referenced a recent exposė in the Liverpool Echo of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry, which has 90 branches across Manchester and Liverpool. The Ministry conducts a three-day residential programme which involves the participant not eating or drinking in order to ‘cure’ their homosexuality.

So-called ‘gay conversion therapies’ have already banned in Australia, Malta, Switzerland, Taiwan, and in several states in the US. In the UK, earlier this year the UK Council for Psychotherapy issued a statement stating that the abuse that participants are subjected to under these programmes precipitates mental health issues. The Church of England also joined calls to ban these therapies after a meeting of its synod in July. However, in March, in response to a parliamentary petition, the Government rejected calls to legislate to outlaw these practices, although it acknowledged that there is no evidence that these practices are beneficial and may cause significant harm to participants.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘With reports of starvation and other abuses being carried out, it is time that the Government reconsiders its position that a legislative approach to tackling this problem is not needed. The measures taken by the Government around tightening the registration of counsellors and practice guidelines within the NHS is simply not enough. These abuses are being committed outside of the conventional medical settings, particularly in churches. Legislation is needed at Government level to redress this problem.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at richy@humanism.org.uk or 020 7324 3072.

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/

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