Gender-identity counselling is not ‘conversion therapy’

May 12, 2021 by

by Joanna Williams, spiked:

A government ban on conversion therapy could lead yet more children down the trans path.

This week’s Queen’s Speech confirmed that the government plans to ban conversion therapy. Close your calendar. I can confirm that it is indeed still 2021 and, no, you are not trapped inside an episode of Call The Midwife. Apparently, amid the post-lockdown economic and social devastation now facing the UK, the Conservative Party really does think that banning an outdated and irrelevant practice is worth, at the very least, a public consultation.

Most people will have little idea what conversion therapy is. After all, it has not really been a thing since the 1950s. Back then, homosexuality was illegal: you could be arrested and imprisoned simply for being gay. Social stigma led to gay people being rejected by friends and family, ostracised from their communities, and discriminated against in employment, housing and healthcare.

Within this context, seeking help – or being compelled – to alter your sexuality made heartbreaking sense. Conversion therapy was state-sanctioned and sometimes state-enforced. Drugs were used as a form of ‘chemical castration’, psychologists specialised in aversion techniques, and God only knows what priests deemed necessary to drive out the sin.

Today, things could not be more different. Gay relationships come with the state’s blessing. Pride, now a month-long festival of all things queer, comes with celebrity endorsements, corporate sponsorship and local-council permission. Even the very youngest children are taught that having two dads is more normal than motherhood and apple pie. Being gay is legal, socially acceptable and, frankly, no longer terribly interesting.

So why ban conversion therapy now?  Today the practice boils down to a miniscule number of people who are conflicted between their sexuality and their deeply held religious beliefs, and seek help from a priest, rabbi or imam. Banning conversion therapy would stop religious leaders engaging in these conversations. They would still be free to counsel heterosexual people struggling with sex or relationships, but would be forbidden from offering the same advice to homosexual people. Treating gay and straight people differently would, once more, be legally enshrined in law.

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