Conversion Therapy and Faith
Today, the UK Government is bringing forth plans for progressive legislation seeking to ban the practice of conversion therapy. For those of you who may not know what this is, it is attempting to stop or suppress a person from homosexuality or identifying as a different gender to that which they were born. This is an arcane practice which all legitimate therapists and therapeutic organisations have committed to eradicate as it represents the very worst practice. Using any form of coercion and yes, therapy when given to someone who does not seek it nor someone who is vulnerable can certainly be a form of coercion.
There will be a short consultation on this before the government finalises its legislation on this matter, and this is where I and many other professionals have a problem. The consultation is meant to seek the advice and views of interested parties. Outside of the therapeutic world, the most interested party in this discussion is evangelical Christians. This group takes a literal, though in my view a misguided interpretation of Old Testament Scripture. You can find an example of this in Genesis 19: 1-11 and Leviticus 18:22, 20:13.
Faith is a wonderful thing and can bring great solace to those who believe, but faith has no place in the discussion of mental health. This is the same as psychotherapists have no place in pronouncing on matters of faith. However, faith is often used as a shield to get away with appalling prejudice and other practices which if practiced in the secular world would be considered criminal. Discrimination is an abomination, telling people that they are evil or wrong because of the way they have been “created” is an abomination, churches saying that praying with people who want to explore their sexual orientation and or gender is wrong when the person praying with them believes absolutely in the “wrongness” of the person being prayed for.
The time has come for the government and society in general to stand up against religious bully boy tactics and call this out for what it is. This is intolerance and we all can remember throughout history how intolerance works out for the world. Using God as an excuse to coerce and manipulate people who are already vulnerable is an evil, yes evil, which no civilised society should tolerate (yes I know the irony of talking about the evils of intolerance yet seeming to be intolerant of this point of view). People of conscience should stand shoulder to shoulder on this subject and say to the elected government of the people which were elected by a great number of people who do not identify as any type of faith, it is time to say NO to the undo influence of the religious right, and say yes to all people being treated with equity and frankly love.