www.treatmentshomosexuality.org.uk is based on research funded by the Wellcome Trust from 2001 to 2004 into the oral history of such treatments in Britain since 1950 and gathers together oral histories from lesbian, gay and bisexual people who have undergone treatment as well as from professionals who developed and conducted such treatments.
To coincide with the launch, a study, carried out by Professor Michael King and Dr Glenn Smith from UCL (University College London) and Dr Annie Bartlett from St George’s, University of London was released.
The study of more than 1,400 psychiatrists and therapists in BMC Psychiatry found that 222 (17%) said they had treated at least one client to alter their homosexual feelings at some point. The researchers expected the cases to be concentrated in the past, but the 400 to 500 cases recorded were distributed evenly across the decades. “It is happening up to the present moment,” Professor King said. It might only be the “tip of the iceberg”. It also appeared that many practitoners carried out the therapies fully aware that they were ineffective.
“These statistics prove a practice that is truly shocking”, commented Schools OUT’s Tony Fenwick. “First, it questions the professional ethics of a lot of practitioners in the psychiatric profession, since they are carrying out an outmoded process that has been scientifically proven not to work.
“Worse than that, however, I have heard of gay and lesbian children being taken into Christian Brotherhood ‘boot camps’ to be cured in Poland. I have heard of such children being abducted and bundled into the boots of cars to be re-educated in Australia. This is a result of parental pressure and I thought such things could not go on here. Now it seems that they can – and do.
“But the worst thing of all is that many of these psychiatrists and therapists claim they were acting in the interests of the gay and lesbian youngsters themselves; that they ‘asked’ to be changed. What messages are our children getting from the outside world? The answer is that they believe that they are deviating from the norm. They don’t want to be gay or lesbian because they hear in the playground and in the media that it’s a bad place to be at.”
Find out more about the research on the Welcome Trust website here.