Call for Joint Study on Effects of Conversion Therapy
Letter to Curch of England Newspaper (Published)
Your report (12 December, below) of the Ozanne Foundation’s ongoing work notes that the government’s 2017 survey found that 2% of LGBT people had undergone therapy and 24% had accessed mental health services. The Bishop of Liverpool seems to imply that the latter was caused by the former, but clearly this is not so – therapy for 2% did not cause distress for 24%. So what did?
The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ submission to Pilling (para 206) cites “discrimination in society and possible rejection by friends, families and others”. Pilling comments,“On the other hand, the Core Issues Trust point out that the three scientific papers referred to by the Royal College of Psychiatrists at this point actually refuse to attribute the causation of mental health issues among gay and lesbian people to societal factors. For example, one paper cited states, ‘It may be that prejudice in society against gay men and lesbians leads to greater psychological distress… conversely, gay men and lesbians may have lifestyles that make them vulnerable to psychological disorder.’”
A recent study, Effects of Therapy on Religious Men who have Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction, (Santero et al 2018), found “positive change in suicidality, self-esteem, depression, self-harm, substance abuse” and “degree of harm is zero to slight and about typical for therapy for other unwanted problems.” The authors argue that this therapy is not really exceptional but should be considered in the ranks of the conventional.
There is a strong case for a joint project with scholars from both sides of the debate to assess effectiveness and possible harm or otherwise – a project long requested by one side and resisted by the other. Would the Ozanne Foundation agree to participate?
Member of General Synod, Church of Ireland, Director Core Issues Trust