A WEEK ago I wrote on TCW about how the LGBT lobby would deny freedom of choice to those people who would like to move away from same-sex attraction and seek therapy to enable them to do so. I went on to explain how the LGBT lobby see this desire to move away from homosexuality as evidence of homophobia and on that basis continue to advocate for the banning of any therapy that seeks to help with or explore this wish.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the article came under immediate attack form parts of the gay lobby with critics resorting to the ‘kill the messenger’ approach in the absence of an ethical argument against choice.
The ban imposed on ‘conversion therapy’ by mental health bodies in 2015 and reinforced by the Church of England in 2017 is relatively recent. The LGBT lobby is currently agitating for this ban to become law. Their campaigning has been very successful. In 2018, Penny Mordaunt, the then Minister for Equalities, pledged to ‘eradicate the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy in the UK as part of a new 75-point action plan to tackle discrimination and improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the UK’. Mrs May, then Prime Minister, was proud to give it her personal endorsement.
Neither appeared to stop to think about those individuals who did not wish to be ‘out and proud’, for whom their same-sex attraction was unwanted and for whom the option of therapy provided them with hope and support. I doubt if they can have been made aware of the many who have reported how their depression or suicidal thoughts subsided or diminished in response to the therapy.
For these people, the Government’s affirmation of the medical bodies’ ban could have been damaging. A number of personal accounts of how counselling interventions for unwanted same-sex attraction have helped them are available to read in a significant document entitled Voices of the Silenced.
One recipient explains how he ‘always felt let down by the medical profession because, while officially therapists say they will not judge the client, they would not accept the validity of my choice not to identify as gay. I felt angry, cheated and discriminated against. The consultations contradicted the principle of self-determination that I was promised’.
It is hard to see how an approach that will only affirm a person’s unwanted same-sex attractions as the identity they must accept is the more compassionate one.
Consider those whose same-sex attractions are a response to abuse they experienced as children and how preventing therapy that explores this may stop the necessary healing from taking place. One man has described how he was abandoned at birth, fostered, orphaned and adopted and saw himself as rejected by men even as a small boy.
He goes on to explain how in therapy he faced repressed memories of childhood sex abuse by a number of men and of being raped before he had reached the age of consent, and how ‘within a few years of therapy, (his) insatiable eroticisation of men diminished’ and how unexpectedly, he began to see woman ‘as I had never seen her before’.
It is true that banning ‘conversion therapy’ may affect only a tiny number of people. However, the implications of such an oppressive policy extend well beyond the individuals concerned.
One particularly extreme ban in Canberra, Australia, imposes both a prison sentence and heavy fine on anyone involved in any effort to change a person’s sexual attractions or identity even when that change is a desired, individual choice. Worryingly, it could result in parents, guardians or teachers being imprisoned even for a conversation with their children who were experiencing gender dysphoria or counselling them to think carefully about gender transitioning.
A priest praying for a member of the congregation who wished to overcome their same-sex attraction could likewise be locked up.
In Calgary, Canada, a new by-law means that anyone involved in an attempt to reduce non-heterosexual attraction or behaviour could find themselves subject to a year in jail or a $10,000 fine. Speaking at events where same-sex behaviour is called into question, expressions in support of a traditional view of marriage, those in recovery programmes for sexual addiction, or even facilitating embracing a Christian rather than a gay identity, could all potentially be seen as a criminal offence. Penalties are imposed not just on the individual providing the therapy but on the owners of properties, so churches will be penalised as well.
Even in the UK the implication of banning therapies is to drive the Christian churches underground.
So far, the therapy ban has been confined to Albania, Malta, Germany, Calgary and Canberra. The LGBT lobby continue to push for it both in the UK and in the US. The UN is under similar pressure to make sure that all its members outlaw therapy.
All this has implications for freedom of speech, already violated in several states for which it was once the marker of democracy and its key distinguishing factor from Soviet, Chinese and other dictatorships.
Therapeutic conversations are a private and confidential matter. Banning would violate freedom of speech of both clients and therapists as well as third parties such as supervisors of therapists. It is an alarming prospect and an invasion of personal liberty.
It would violate the European Convention on Human Rights declaration of ‘freedom to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authorities’.
The effects on academic freedom can already be seen. Researchers who provide findings in any way supportive of therapy are professionally marginalised, investigated, cut off from grant monies and risk career-threatening damage. Journals which publish research that identifies the efficacy of sexual orientation therapy are under huge pressure to remove the studies. The result is that research is heavily compromised.
Even when professionals recognise that therapy can be effective it is banned as Dr Di Hodgson, speaking for the UK Council for Counselling and Psychotherapy, scarily explains: ‘Whether or not something works doesn’t mean that it is ethical or in the public interest or the right thing to do for someone. So we have taken a view in a way which is regardless of the scientific findings.’
Where banning has not yet been made law, vigilantes and the mainstream media are helping to keep it in place. The Core Issues Trust has published a statement about the high levels of intimidation and harassment that those who have gone public about their choice have been subjected to.
The Core Issues Trust itself has been the subject of an ongoing campaign by the LGBT lobby to close it and end the support for those wishing to explore their sexuality.
In 2012 their advertising campaign on London buses: ‘Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!’ was banned by then Mayor Boris Johnson despite being passed by the Committee of Advertising Practice.
A Vue cinema in London cancelled, at the very last minute, the Core Issues Trust screening of Voices of the Silenced.
A fully vetted and paid-up advertising campaign was banned and tagged as hate speech on Facebook. All their accounts with PayPal were unilaterally ended following a decade of good relations. Mailchimp accounts were ended overnight despite entirely appropriate use. Their wiki page was changed and they were unable to access it to make corrections. Barclays Bank unilaterally shut down their account despite years of good relations. Yet the bank has accounts with Saudi Arabia where homosexuality is punishable by death.
It is not clear why the LGBT lobby should be so determined to silence the tiny number of individuals who don’t agree to submit themselves to its diktats. It suggests a fragility and hollowness of the LGBT point of view.
In my next blog I will explore why, at a time when we are promoting a whole spectrum of sexualities, we are determined to silence and censor the ‘ex-gay’.