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'No place in any modern society': Psychologists condemn LGBT conversion therapies

The Psychological Society of Ireland said to call it ‘therapy’ is an affront to the work that psychologists do.

Image: Shutterstock/Lisa-Lisa

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY of Ireland has said it is disappointed that there are still questions being raised in public forums about conversion therapies, a practice it says has no place in modern society. 

The main representative body for psychologists in Ireland said it was issuing advice in light of recent public commentary on conversion therapy, which refers to any form of psychological intervention which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation.

The PSI President Ian O’Grady said that to call it ‘therapy’ is an affront to the work that psychologists do and “adds a layer of validity to it that’s not deserved”.

It’s disappointing that there are still questions being raised in public forums as to what the evidence for conversion therapy is when it is absolutely clear that there is no credible evidence and it should be confined to the annals of history as bad practice.

The PSI said there is clear and empirical evidence that conversion therapy does not work, and significant evidence that it is also inherently harmful. A position that is agreed by professional organisations worldwide Such as the United Nations Committee Against Torture as well as the European Parliament.

O’Grady said in a statement that the practice or even endorsement of conversion therapy gives legitimacy to the notion that one’s sexual orientation is wrong and needs to be changed.

First and foremost, a person’s sexual orientation is not, and should not, be viewed as a mental health disorder that requires psychological intervention.

O’Grady added that there is significant evidence that societal prejudice causes psychological harm to the LGBT community.

“Our focus as a society should be on reducing prejudices and not on practices that have no evidence of benefit and have evidence of harm.”

Last week, Senator Rónán Mullen suggested in the Seanad that people should have the option to engage in conversion therapy unless it is proven to be harmful. 

“I do not know enough about it at this stage but if it can be demonstrated that this is harmful to people, there is a very good case to make it unlawful.  If it cannot be shown to be harmful to people, we are back into the realm of individual choice,” Mullen said. 

Mullen said he was responding to the issue raised by Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield who previously launched legislation to ban conversion therapy in Ireland.

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Adam Daly

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