'Gay conversion therapy must be outlawed'

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When they did so, they identified that ‘being gay, lesbian or bisexual is not something that can be cured’.

Despite this assertion and despite the UK having the Equality Act 2010, outlawing discrimination against LGB people ‘gay conversion therapies’ prevail and are being coerced or actually enforced upon members of the LGBT+ community, even in our city to this very day.

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In my role in equalities and human rights here in Sheffield, regionally, nationally, and internationally too, I am fully aware of the various types of ‘therapies’ operating covertly and overtly and monitor them.

Director of Equalities and Human Rights UK Chrissy MeleadyDirector of Equalities and Human Rights UK Chrissy Meleady
Director of Equalities and Human Rights UK Chrissy Meleady

‘Gay conversion therapy’ involves strenuous efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation, through psychological, spiritual, or physical interventions.

Increasingly too, there are cases where people with a trans identity, or from a position of gender identity are also being subjected to comparable ‘conversion therapies too’.

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Research and the expressed lived experiences of those being subjected to this form of abuse, identifies that it is highly unethical and can be harmful, even resulting in people being adversely affected by it, even seeking to die by suicide.

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Tragically too, we have numerous cases where people have died by suicide due to what they were subjected to and the harm it caused to them.

Gay conversion therapies/treatments are condemned by every major British medical, psychological and counselling organisation.

Let me share with you one case that is prevailing in the city, in which a young gay man was coerced into taking part in a series of ‘deliverance sessions’ in an Anglican c hurch he attended, leaving him traumatised and ‘suicidal’.

Having reflected upon this experience, he sought to make complaint to the church concerned, only to have his complaint shut down.

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He pursued this and senior members have not properly investigated it.

He has also sought to secure resolution through the d iocese, which is still awaiting full redress and due to members of the church concerned holding positions of power and influence - one holding purview over vulnerable equalities protected characteristics people in the c ity, including LGBT+ families - he has been concerned at the potentials for bias or other mistreatments against them to occur due to condemnatory views and positions held on LGBT + people.

He therefore, lodged concern, through an advocate, with this person’s employer too.

However, again , no proper follow-through investigation has ensued and this man lives his life in fear.

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He is concerned what he went through and its adverse impact upon him may well be getting played out against other LGBT+ people in Sheffield as a consequence.

Dr John Sentamu , the then Archbishop of York, at the time also expressed that ‘the sooner the practice of so-called conversion therapy is banned, I can sleep at night ”.

It is now two years since the above was asserted and two years since the UK Government promised to outlaw ‘gay conversion therapy’.

However, this has not transpired as the legislation promised has not been brought forward under the steerage of the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, women and equalities minister.

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And this is despite the previous Prime Minister Theresa May, saying unequivocally tha t the Government would ensure ending ‘conversion therapy’ would be a Government priority.

The current Cabinet’s reason they say for holding back outlawing the practice is ‘it’s a complex’ issue.

Yet complexities did not stop Germany, Australia and parts of the United States enforcing a ban on it.

It is always the case that where there is a will, there is a way and the procrastination needs to cease.

We will continue to make strenuous representation on this matter.

Chrissy Meleady is director of Sheffield-based Equalities and Human Rights UK