Core Issues, a Northern Ireland based conversion therapy organisation, are today holding their annual conference in Ballynahinch entitled ‘Setting Love In Order’. As stated on their website the conference is headed by US minister Andrew Comiskey who works with the ‘sexually broken’ and seeks to promote the values of the ex-gay movement where he can.
I can tell you now that gay people are not broken. I am not broken. We are not creatures of misfortune to be pitied or fixed and the idea that we can be ‘cured’ of homosexuality is a dangerous and disgusting notion. Core Issues seeks to undermine the confidence and esteem of gay people by peddling the myth that sexuality is a choice and that homosexuality can be removed from people via a very dangerous and horrific pseudoscience known as conversion therapy.
Now as someone who has required counselling due to the circumstances of my coming out I have no issue with people accessing services that help them to affirm their self confidence and to reconcile their sexuality with their family and themselves. What I do take issue with is the idea that counselling should be about trying to mould someone who is need of empowerment into something that they are not.
Conversion Therapy is almost always influenced by religion and their ‘clinics’ or therapists propped up by religious organisations like Core Issues however the practice is banned by many psychiatry organisations and even the Christian Association of Counsellors due to the impact it has on patients lives. Having spoken with people who have undergone conversion therapy (usually always at the insistence of their family) I can tell you that the process is damaging and devastating with potential long term effects on mental health. The suicide rate alone is horrific.
My own colleague Anna Lo MLA has already hit out at the practice and I join her in calling for this psychiatric perversion to be banned. I would welcome any attempt by the Health Minister to outlaw conversion therapy and call on him to do so.