Published: 01 Jun 2019
Authored by: PCSR Steering Group
2nd letter from PCSR to Equalities Office
Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister for Women and Equalities,
Government Equalities Office,1 Sanctuary Buildings, 20 Great Smith Street SW1P 3BT
1st May 2019
LGBT Advisory Panel
Thank you for your letter of 18 April 2019 in response to our letter of 21 March.
We are not asking for reassurance. We are requesting urgent information on the reasoning behind excluding therapists from the Advisory Panel. We are advising the National Advisor, the Advisory Panel and the government, through your office, to immediately bring therapist knowledge and skill to the Advisory Panel.
Your colleague, Geraint Davies MP, has over two years proposed two bills to end conversion ‘therapy’. His concern for LGBT+ people and for the ethical practice of counselling and psychotherapy are not in question, yet both bills demonstrate a profound confusion of the issues around State regulation, protected titles, professional standards and even the practice of counselling and psychotherapy.
We do not believe that you would create an Advisory Panel to focus on issues specific to surgery or the automotive industry without involving a single surgeon or automotive industry executive. To create an Advisory Panel “which will focus on key issues such as conversion therapy,” that does not contain a single therapist strongly suggests that you do not hold counsellors, psychotherapists or indeed LGBT+ people in high esteem.
Please feel free to contact us for a full briefing on this complex and delicate matter.
Response from Government Equalities Office to our first letter (see below)
Our reference GEO-01519
18 April 2019
Dear Ms Miller,
Thank you for your letter of 21 March regarding the advisory panel and conversion therapy. I am responding on behalf of the Minister for Women and Equalities.
We would like to thank you for your support on this issue, and the work you are already doing to tackle conversion therapy by signing the MoU.
In the LGBT Action Plan we committed to exploring both legislative and non-legislative issues to prevent conducting, offering or promoting conversion therapy activities. In particular we are concerned with these issue (sic) in three areas: medical, faith and cultural, and commercial contexts.
We are committed to this work, and GEO officials are proactively working on it now. Our current focus is on getting better evidence about where these practices are taking place, what they are, and how they can most effectively be stopped.
We are engaging with faith groups, healthcare stakeholder groups, and others to ensure that our proposals are proportionate, targeted and effective. We have also commissioned qualitative research into the experiences of those who have undergone conversion therapy. This research looks at the impact on individuals and how they think we should end its practice.
The evidence we have gathered to date suggests the practice of conversion therapy is not limited to the medical profession. Additionally, whilst there has been much discussion of counselling and psychotherapy within the wider debate on this issue, we have limited evidence that this should be an area of particular focus in our response. Our work suggests there are much larger challenges with regards to cultural and faith-based practices which deserve thorough consideration; 51% of respondents who had undergone conversion therapy said that it had been conducted by faith groups.
We are proud that our robust recruitment process for the LGBT Advisory Panel has led to a diverse Panel in terms of expertise and demography. The members of the panel were appointed based on their extensive knowledge and understanding of the experiences of LGBT+ people, developed over multiple years. The Panel will also be able to draw on extensive expertise as the need arises, and so will be able to bring in an even greater diversity of voices during the course of their work.
I hope this information is reassuring. Thank you again for writing to us on this important issue.
Government Equalities Office
1st letter from PCSR to Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister for Women and Equalities
Government Equalities Office, 16-20 Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BT
21 March 2019
We welcome the appointment of a National Adviser for LGBT Health in the NHS, and the creation of an Advisory Panel that will “focus on key issues such as conversion therapy…” 1
Conversion therapy has been a particular concern for counsellors and psychotherapists for many years. The ‘Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK’ emerged from 10 years of debate informed by LGBT+ people and groups, engaging 11 therapy bodies, the NHS, the Royal College of GP’s, The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists, and supported by Stonewall. 2
We are therefore astonished and alarmed that there are no therapists on the Advisory Panel, a particularly striking omission for a group with an explicit focus on conversion therapy.
We request urgent information on the reasoning behind excluding therapists from the Advisory Panel.
We strongly urge the National Advisor, the Advisory Panel and the government to immediately bring therapist knowledge and skill to the Panel.
The exclusion of therapists from a group that has been created to ‘focus on key issues such as conversion therapy’ leaves the Advisory Panel open to accusations of ignorance of the significance of therapy for LGBT Health, and of gullibility. The setting up of Advisory Panels is an established way for powerful groups to enact a pretence of interest and concern.
Chair, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility www.pcsr.org.uk