Call the Midwife tackled LGBT+ conversion therapy this week, prompting emotional reactions and calls for change.
Sunday night’s (9 May) Call the Midwife featured a young gay man named Michael who was attempting to come to terms with his sexuality, and it brought many viewers to tears.
The episode saw Michael go home to visit his parents, only to discover he has a sexually transmitted infection. This prompts him to reveal he is gay and doing sex work.
Set to the backdrop of England’s historic 1966 World Cup win, Michael pleads with his parents: “I can’t change. I tried and it would have killed me.”
His father sends him to a conversion therapy facility. But the end of the episode sees his parents come to terms with Michael’s sexuality, and accept him as he is.
Jack Archer, who played Michael in Call the Midwife, wrote how he felt “honoured” to be involved in the storyline and bring the character to life.
Many took to social media to praise the show’s candid representation of conversion therapy and its negative psychological effects on survivors. Some viewers felt compelled by the episode to take action, urging MPs to put pressure on the government to enact a ban on conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is unfortunately still practiced around the world, including in the UK, where the Tory government has been promising a ban for three years.
The LGBT Foundation used the opportunity to call for people to “end this abuse”, shining a light on a coalition of charities that help people email their MPs and demand the practice be stopped in the UK.
Formed in July 2020, Ban Conversion Therapy was launched by 19 LGBT+ charities including Stonewall, Mermaids and Gendered Intelligence. Their online email tool has been used to send over 26,000 emails to UK MPs supporting the ban.
Ban Conversion Therapy explains: “Conversion therapy is deeply harmful. Proponents lie that you can ‘cure’ someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“They manifest shame and stigma about being LGBTQIA+, drag people to rock bottom and pretend to offer a solution – that you can simply stop being LGBTQIA+ to remain part of your family or community.
“Conversion therapy has lifelong impacts on those who survive. Many don’t.”