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British leaders confront gay conversion therapy

By Marie Doezema, GlobalPost

Editor’s Note: This story is the second in a running series on the global debate about the controversial practice of gay conversion therapy — also known as reparative therapy and sexual reorientation therapy — which has been widely discredited by professional organizations but remains legal in most places. The stories will explore the intersections of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identities and mental health.

PARIS, France — The controversy surrounding gay conversion therapy is heating up in Europe as the British Parliament deliberates whether to ban it in the United Kingdom.

At a special debate in Westminster Hall in London, UK Health Minister Norman Lamb said that conversion, which aims to help “cure” patients of homosexuality, was “utterly abhorrent” and that no doctor funded by the National Health Service should be referring patients for such treatment.

“It is sad that we need to state that, but it needs to be stated. [Homosexuality] is not an illness to be treated or cured,” Lamb said. “It is completely inappropriate for any general practitioner to be referring a patient for such a thing. It is unacceptable that that should happen through someone working in our National Health Service.”

Support for an official ban is growing, said Labour MP Geraint Davies, who last June urged Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to consider outlawing conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy. “In the political community, more and more MPs, more parties are agreeing to regulation and that gay-to-straight conversion therapy is inappropriate at best and immoral from most people’s point of view.”

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