UK bill proposes to ban therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions, condemned as ‘Stalinist’
LONDON, December 17, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While a British Labour Party MP proposes a private member’s bill to ban therapists offering help to overcome unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction, one prominent Christian therapist has warned that the bill is just part of ongoing violations of the rights of clients seeking help.
Dr. Michael Davidson says the bill is part of a “Stalinist” style effort to force out any professional opinions that dissent from the “gay political and social ideology” that is being adopted by psychological associations.
Professional governing bodies, starting with the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr. Davidson told LifeSiteNews.com in an interview today, are guided on these issues by a political ideology, not science, and are manipulating and misrepresenting empirical findings.
“The agenda is being driven not by politicians but by the professional bodies,” he said, who are employing what he called “Stalinist tactics” to quash dissent.
“You simply get rid of anybody with a different point of view. Then you can give the impression that there is unity in the literature, and you can gain control,” he said. “It is a Stalinist tactic in this country.”
“You claim an ethical context that refuses to allow any dissenting voice, then you close opportunities to train therapists. This ensures you will have no dissenting voice to the ideological drive,” Dr. Davidson said.
Geraint Davies, Labour MP for Swansea West, has brought forward the bill that he says is intended to “regulate the therapy profession,” and “ban gay-to-straight conversion therapy.” It would require all therapists and counsellors to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, which would in its turn be automatically required to strike off anyone offering “gay to straight conversion therapy.”
“This damaging so-called treatment has traumatised many LGBT people over the years and it’s time Britain led the way in banning the therapy outright,” Davies told the House of Commons. “The government has so far refused to act, but since I first proposed my bill I’ve seen MPs from all parties join the psychotherapy profession in condemning this discredited practice.”
“The only way to stop conversion therapy for good is to make regulation compulsory and to strike off anyone attempting to ‘cure’ a person’s sexual orientation.”
“We agree that regulation is always important and must be accountable. It’s a normal part of professional development,” said Davidson, Director of Core Issues Trust and himself a former homosexual. But what is being proposed is not regulation but outright prohibition.
If the bill is passed, he said, it will have “the opposite of the desired effect” on public accountability of therapists. Instead it will drive those seeking help into the hands of untrained and possibly unscrupulous unprofessional practitioners.
The characterization of the therapy as “gay to straight conversion” is also inaccurate. What is offered, he said, by reputable and trained therapists, is not the “gay cure” spoken of by the BBC and MPs, but “therapeutic support” for those who suffer from unwanted same-sex attraction and feelings that lead to unwanted behaviour.
The media, he said, has colluded with the homosexualist political lobby to muddy the waters, introducing terms and ideas that no one in the profession uses. “There is very little understanding about this because the media in the UK has used the term ‘gay to straight conversion therapy,’ but this is really just a pejorative term. It wrongly assumes that what we offer is a ‘quick fix’ over a few therapy sessions on the couch.”
“The fact is these initiatives will continue,” he said, “because there is a demand out there. We’re not trying to close down anyone else’s rights [to live the homosexual lifestyle]; we’re simply trying to provide those with unwanted same-sex attraction with help and support.”
But the professional bodies have created a catch-22 in which they increasingly insist that even to desire to be helped in that way is a sign of a mental pathology. Despite a general movement in the psychological professions towards a “patient-centred” model, in which clients are encouraged to pursue their personal aspirations and goals for therapy, the one goal that is not tolerated is the desire to leave homosexual feelings and temptations behind.
Dr. Davidson said that the trend is towards forcing such persons to accept homosexuality as “natural and normal,” whether they want to or not. Asked why persons wanting to receive the therapy have not come forward with complaints, he said it is difficult to underestimate the social pressure to conform. “Certainly in the UK if you raise your head above the parapet and speak about these issues, you attract an enormous amount of negative attention,” he said.
Davidson said that the therapeutic professional bodies are following a method similar to that of the medical establishment in the 1960s who re-wrote the scientific literature to redefine pregnancy as the moment of implantation of an embryo, in order to justify first abortifacient contraceptives and later direct surgical abortion.
“The scientific literature is clear,” he said, “that some people can reduce these feelings and live in celibacy if that is their choice. For others it is possible to eliminate the feelings. We think that is a reasonable choice and we are concerned that in the UK the assumption is that such practices are intrinsically harmful.”
But that is precisely the scientific literature that is being deliberately suppressed, he said. “We have argued strongly providing information based on the empirical findings to MPs and Peers,” but, he said, politicians are being mislead by activists within the psychological professional associations. “They have all been shown a single paper” he said, that claimed that “in some instances people have been harmed by this.”
That single study was found to have “serious methodological flaws,” but is still being used by the entire profession to block the available evidence, he said. “They simply say,” to clients seeking to change, “‘You’re wrong to want that. The reason why you want it is because of internalised and systemic homophobia in society, people have bent your mind.’”
“They argue that it is the equivalent of a psychotherapist wanting to help a person with black skin who wants to be white. We hear all the time the unsupported view that homosexuality is genetic, and that since it’s genetic it is completely natural and ought to be supported.”
This amounts, Dr. Davidson said, to telling clients with same-sex attraction that they have no option but to accept the self-identification of “gay” which he called a purely “socio-political idea.”
In contrast, Core Issues Trust and other therapists offering similar assistance, feels “that the right to self-identify is to be protected.” There is a growing awareness “among some people that basic human rights” of clients to seek help with their aspirations “are being trampled.”
With the ideological acceptance by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other bodies of the premise that homosexuality is merely a normal human “sexual variant,” however, all other professional bodies are following suit like “a series of dominoes,” Dr. Davidson said, and therapists who want to offer clients the choice are being more and more aggressively marginalised.
The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) claims that there is “overwhelming evidence [of] considerable emotional and psychological cost” associated with change therapies. Its former chair, Professor Andrew Samuels, however, declined to respond to Core Issues’ request for the scientific evidence. Instead, the Council’s Chief Executive, David Pink, simply stated that the question was “adequately addressed in the drawing up of our guidance.”
Core Issues Trust has repeatedly asked for documentation from the Royal College and other bodies to support the claim either that homosexuality is innate or inherited, or that therapy to change is harmful. But nobody has yet to come forward with research findings, referring instead to the statement on the Royal College website asserting that homosexuality is not to be tampered with.
Dr. Di Hodgson, head of UKCP’s Diversity, Equalities and Social Responsibility Committee has said on a BBC Radio 4 programme, “I think there is very conflicting evidence ... So we have taken a view in a way which is regardless of the scientific findings.
“We still believe that it is unethical to seek to agree or to work towards changing someone’s sexual orientation through psychotherapy.”
A statement from Core Issues Trust called the Royal College on their assertions, and by extension the bodies following them, saying they have “failed to respond to reasonable requests to provide the evidence which they claim shows that homosexuality is ‘biological,’ a foundational premise, unsupported by scientific research, which other professional bodies cite without question.”
Dr. Davidson himself was expelled last month from a training programme overseen by the British Psychyodrama Association. “I expressed the view that autonomous individuals, where possible should be allowed to reduce or eliminate their feelings, and should have therapeutic support to do this. That’s my crime.”