Report arising from meeting with Equalities Office July 2019

On 1 July 2019 PCSR Steering Group met with senior policy advisers from the government Equalities Office. We offer this report for three reasons:

  1. to keep members informed about the work of the Steering Group.
  2. to summarize what we believe to be the most important points in this issue.
  3. to give background to a request from the Equalities Office for members to contribute towards their work.

The Steering Group of PCSR has been in correspondence with the Equalities Office to discuss our concerns about the composition of the LGBT Advisory Panel.  One of the stated aims of this Panel is to seek legislative and non-legislative means to end conversion ‘therapy’ (CT.)

We wanted to understand why therapists were not represented on the Advisory Panel, particularly after the many years of work by therapists that have resulted in the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK.
https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/UKCP-Memorandum-of-Understanding-on-Conversion-Therapy-in-the-UK.pdf

 We were interested to know more about qualified counsellor and psychotherapist involvement in CT.

 We wanted to discuss the term ‘Conversion Therapy’. Like other therapists we were clear that CT is not therapeutic and not related to therapy. PCSR believes these actions to be inherently unethical and that in many circumstances they may constitute abuse.

The term “Efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity” is being used by Coventry University (see below.) We were reassured that a term other than ‘therapy’ is being sought by the Equalities Office to describe these actions.

For ease of reading we will continue to use the abbreviation CT. When a term is agreed, we will use it.

Background  

“The Government Equalities Office leads work on policy relating to women, sexual orientation and transgender equality. They are responsible for a range of equalities legislation.” The Minister is Penny Mordaunt.

In November 2018 the Equalities Office opened recruitment for an LGBT Advisory Panel. In March 2019 a National LGBT Advisor and the LGBT Panel was announced.

The National LGBT Advisor is Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director of the Terrence Higgins Trust and a sexual health and HIV consultant at King’s College Hospital. He will advise the government on how to tackle inequality in the healthcare system including:

  • improving healthcare professionals’ awareness of LGBT issues
  • the implementation of sexual orientation monitoring across the NHS
  • working with statutory and professional organisations to address LGBT issues in physical and mental health services

The LGBT Panel has 3 permanent members, CEO’s appointed by the Secretary of State.

  • Paul Martin, Chief Executive of LGBT Foundation
  • Paul Roberts, Chief Executive of Consortium
  • Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall

There are 9 other people on the Panel

  • Catherine Meads, Professor of Health at Anglia Ruskin University
  • S Chelvan, Barrister at No5 Barristers’ Chambers, specialising in international human rights and LGBT asylum cases
  • Ellen Murray, Executive Director of Transgender Northern Ireland
  • James Morton, Manager at the Scottish Trans Alliance and member of the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity
  • Jayne Ozanne, Director of the Ozanne Foundation and member of the Church of England’s General Synod
  • Lewis Turner, Chief Executive of Lancashire LGBT
  • Marcel Varney, Assistant Director of Children’s Services at Barnardo’s
  • Paul Dillane, ex-Executive Director of Kaleidoscope Trust
  • Stevie-Jade Hardy, Associate Professor of Criminology and expert on equalities and hate crime at the University of Leicester

4 of these people are attending specifically to the issue of CT.

They will advise entire Panel on “legislative and non-legislative ways to end CT.”

  • S Chelvan
  • Marcel Varney
  • Stevie Jade Harvey
  • Jayne Ozanne

Advising them are Dr Michael Brady (the LGBT Advisor) and Dr Igi Moon, who spoke on ‘Genderqueer and Feminism’ at PCSR’s 4th Wave of Feminism conference in July 2015. The Coalition Against Conversion Therapy (MoU signatories) agreed that Igi Moon should represent the psychotherapy sector on the group.

The National LGBT Survey

2017 Equalities Office research

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-lgbt-survey-summary-report

 More than 108,000 people participated, the largest national survey of LGBT people in the world to date. In terms of CT, 2% of respondents had had CT and 5% had been offered it.

The survey found

  1. In terms of sexual orientation, Asexual people are the most likely group to undergo and be offered conversion therapy
  2. In relation to Gender Identity – Trans respondents were much more likely to have undergone or been offered conversion therapy more than cis people.
  3. That more Trans men have been offered CT than non-binary people or Trans women
  4. That more Trans women have had conversion therapy than Trans men or non-binary people
  5. That those most likely to have been offered CT or undergone CT live in Northern Ireland and London.

Who conducts CT to cis and Trans people?

  1. By far the greatest are faith organisations
  2. Healthcare or a medical professional is second – (with far more Trans people being offered CT than cis people)
  3. Parent or guardian or family member
  4. Person from my community
  5. Other individuals or organisations

https://pinktherapyblog.com/2018/08/28/guest-blog-dr-igi-moon/

Also see p14 of the summary report.

Coventry University is in the process of examining the data for more detail. PCSR’s questions: “How many respondents had been subjected to CT by a therapist who belongs to a professional organisation? How many incidents of CT occurred before or after changes to counselling and psychotherapy Ethical Codes and Frameworks that occurred in 2012?” are likely to be answered as part of this work.

The National LGBT Plan was created in response

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/lgbt-action-plan-2018-improving-the-lives-of-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-people

CT has broadly taken place in 3 arenas:

  1. Faith/Community/Culture (The importance of discerning differences between culture, community and religion were well understood by the Equalities Office.) ‘Honour’ violence, corrective rape, forced marriage and ‘spiritual strengthening’ were of note.
  2. Medical “pseudo medical, acupuncture, homeopathy” (NB unregulated)
  3. Commercial Companies – often with links to organisations outside of the UK, producing books, residentials, videos etc.

The Equalities Office are collecting data to build an evidence base so that they can signpost or help build solutions: Who’s doing it, why, who does it impact, how are elderly people, younger people and people in social care impacted, what services exist to refer people who have been impacted by CT?

Coventry University, supported by the Government Equalities Office are recruiting for participants for the Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity’ research. 

Link to the research homepage on Coventry University’s website.

Link to the registration page, which includes information about the purpose and impact of the study.

The research lead is Dr Adam Jowett who can be contacted via adam.jowett@coventry.ac.uk.

Regulation and Protected Titles.

We discussed Geraint Davies MP’s Bill.

https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2017-19/counsellorsandpsychotherapistsregulationandconversiontherapy.html

We offered the Equalities Office background on where debates on regulation and protected titles are within our professions, and let them know of our concerns that the important work around ending CT may be used to increase pressure for regulation and protected titles, and to curtail necessary debate on these subjects.

We felt heard and understood by the Equalities Office.

We have been invited to remain in touch with the Equalities Office, who will provide updates.

PCSR aims to offer accurate and reliable information. If we have been factually inaccurate please contact us to let us know.

PCSR Steering Group    July 2019