An LGBT+ activist has described the “distressing and psychologically damaging” conversion therapy that is still being offered to queer people in the UK.
Meanwhile, it has been more than two years since the UK government pledged to ban conversion therapy – yet the traumatising practice is still legal.
Daniel Browne, the chairman of Warwickshire Pride, has described how the traumatising practice is taking place on his doorstep and insisted that a ban is desperately needed.
He told CoventryLive: “The community feels that [a ban] is long overdue and that conversion therapy is a form of torture.
“Conversion therapy is happening in Warwickshire right now, it’s legal. It’s curing people of being gay, that’s the thought behind it.”
As well as leading Warwickshire Pride, Browne is a hypnotherapist and also runs a support group for LGBT+ youth as part of the organisation’s outreach programme.
He said that the young people they support were most often offered conversion therapy by religious institutions.
Browne continued: “To give you an example of what’s happening in Warwickshire, we are currently supporting someone at Warwickshire Pride who has been offered conversion therapy by a church they attend locally.
“The church has pushed this and strongly believes the person needs to be cured of being gay.
“This is deeply distressing for the individual, and it’s also distressing and psychologically damaging for other LGBT+ people who have been offered or told they need conversion therapy.
“Sadly it tends to come from religious institutions, from various churches. It’s crazy to think that it’s still been happening because it hasn’t been made illegal, there is so much evidence to show that it’s a form of torture.”
He said the so-called “therapy” involves “a lot of counselling, exploring why they are gay, why they are having these feelings, conversations about why it is unacceptable, immoral”.
The effects, he said, are “devastating”.
Browne explained: “A lot of the time people being offered this conversion therapy are already quite vulnerable and experiencing poor mental health.
“For them to be told there’s something wrong with them, that their identity is wrong, causes further mental stress.
“I’ve experienced it in my therapy practice too – there aren’t enough words to describe how damaging it is.”
In July 2018, the Tories pledged to “eradicate” the practice, but progress has been slow.
In July of this year, prime minister Boris Johnson said conversion therapy “has no place in a civilised society”.
However, Johnson and equalities minister Liz Truss claimed the government would have to do more research before banning the practice, which has often been compared to torture.