When it comes to how to deal with ex-gay therapy, I'm deeply conflicted.
On one hand:
- I'm pretty confident that it does not work. Suppressing your sexuality is not changing it. The evidence seems to back this up and even former ex-gay leaders are starting to admit this.
- As it doesn't work, giving "false hope" to those, often vulnerable, individuals who want to change their sexuality is dangerous. It serves only to make them feel even worse when they are told their sexuality can change but it doesn't.
- You don't go to a Doctor and expect to receive homeopathy (unless you're a little mad) so you don't go to a psychiatrist and expect to be offered ex-gay therapy. It seems to be deeply wrong for any professional psychiatrist or counsellor to offer this.
- I just don't really get it because I don't see why anyone would want to change their sexuality. But that's just my bias...
On the other hand:
- As long as there is no coercion, this seems like a straight-forward case of freedom both for the individual to pursue this sort of therapy and for people to offer it.
- I don't want people to be gay. I want them to be happy. If not being gay makes them happy, who am I to deny them the right to work on that? Although how finding one gender attractive and the other not can make you happy/unhappy I don't know. Oh bias again...
- Ex-gay therapy is often given a good kicking but when will we review all other sorts of dangerously unscientific therapies like "sex addiction" therapy or anti-masturbation counselling (trust me, the Mormons have this!)
So yes, I'm pretty conflicted on this subject but feel I should welcome Diana Johnson's proposal for Parliament to tackle the subject. Certainly the idea that NHS funds have been used for conversion therapy makes me feel a little sick.
I just know that if this subject ever does make it to Parliament, the debates will be just awful to behold.