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Nurses call for ban on ‘abhorrent’ LGBT conversion therapy

Conference hears from LGBT and non-LGBT members, who say practice of conversion therapy is a form of abuse that has driven some to self-harm and suicide

Conference hears from LGBT and non-LGBT members, who say practice of conversion therapy is a form of abuse that has driven some to self-harm and suicide

Nurses have called for conversion therapy for all LGBT people to be banned, describing the practice as ‘abhorrent’ and ‘torture’.

Delegates at the RCN’s annual congress in Glasgow voted overwhelming in favour of an emergency motion to campaign for a UK-wide ban .

Delegates say conversion therapy practice unethical and harmful

In an emotional debate, the conference heard from LGBT and non-LGBT members who said conversion therapy was a form of abuse that drove some to self-harm and suicide.

Jason Warriner

Conference hears from LGBT and non-LGBT members, who say practice of conversion therapy is a form of abuse that has driven some to self-harm and suicide

Nurse Rachael Ridley speaking at the 2022 RCN congress in Glasgow
Rachael Ridley speaking at RCN congress. Picture: John Houlihan

Nurses have called for conversion therapy for all LGBT people to be banned, describing the practice as ‘abhorrent’ and ‘torture’.

Delegates at the RCN’s annual congress in Glasgow voted overwhelming in favour of an emergency motion to campaign for a UK-wide ban.

Delegates say conversion therapy practice unethical and harmful

In an emotional debate, the conference heard from LGBT and non-LGBT members who said conversion therapy was a form of abuse that drove some to self-harm and suicide.

Jason Warriner – who put forward the motion from the RCN’s Public Health Forum – said the practice was unethical and harmful, but continued to happen in the UK today.

‘What we need is an inclusive ban across all four countries of the UK,’ he told the conference.

The government has said it would ban conversion therapy for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in England and Wales.

However, the plans, which were confirmed in the Queen’s Speech, sparked controversy because they do not cover transgender people.

Transgender nurse tells conference she felt ‘belittled and very angry’

While the proposed law will protect under-18s, it won’t apply to people aged over 18 if they have ‘consented’ and not been coerced.

Transgender nurse Rachael Ridley, who also tabled the motion, told the conference she found the proposals upsetting and felt ‘belittled and very angry’.

Other nurses spoke of their concerns about adults who may be placed under immense – but sometimes covert - pressure to change their sexual orientation or gender identity for religious, family or cultural reasons.

Important for nursing profession to take a stand

In September 2021, organisations, including NHS England, NHS Scotland, the Royal College of GPs and Royal College of Psychiatrists committed to ending conversion therapy across the UK by signing up to a memorandum of understanding. The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s official position is that conversion therapy has no place in health and social care.

Nurses said it was important for the profession to be seen to be taking a stand. Community mental health nurse Kylie McDonnell, from the RCN Grampian and Orkney branch, said her daughter and best friend were transgender.

‘There is no way conversion therapy is any kind of therapy. It is torture and it is against basic human rights,’ she said. ‘People have the right to live the life they want to live and be who they are.’


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