Further on the progress of the Counsellors and Psychotherapy (Regulation) & Conversion Therapy Bill

by Julia Evans on October 30, 2018

Content

News of progress

The background to the Bill

__________________________________________

News of Progress

The following protest letter was sent by email to the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP’s office on the 25thOctober 2018 at 16:44. Ms Mordaunt is the Minister for Women and Equalities. No receipt or reply has been received. The reason it was sent to Ms Mordaunt is that the Government’s Equalities Office is sponsoring this bill, following their policy paper : LGBT Action Plan 2018 : Improving the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. See the information below and links. The bill itself is a private members’ bill and is sponsored by Geraint Davies MP. A copy of the bill may be downloaded here. It was published on 22nd October 2018, ahead of an advertised second reading on Friday 26th October. This has been postponed to 23rd November 2018. Further information is available here.

My Letter:

Flat 1, 32 Nevern Square

Earl’s Court

London, SW5 9PE

25th October 2018

Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP,

Minister for Women and Equalities,

Government Equalities Office,

Sanctuary Buildings,

16-20 Great Smith Street,

London, SW1P 3BT

Dear Ms Mordaunt,

The second reading of the Counsellors & Psychotherapists (Regulation) Bill on 26th October 2018

The Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) Bill : 2018 has now been published.  It seems a curiously short time 3 or 4 days between publication and the second reading.

This is my second attempt to bring Parliament’s attention to the folly of what they are perpetrating. My first attempt was addressed to the House of Commons, Health & Social Care Committee is available at Opposing the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) and Conversion Therapy Bill or here.  In it, I make the argument that this Bill is not based on need for a number of reasons. I am writing to you, as I believe you have been requested as Minister for Women & Equalities to shepherd this Bill through Parliament.

Further arguments against this Bill (A copy of the bill may be downloaded here) :

– It would be very easy for those who want to move all Psychotherapists & Counsellors from current voluntary regulation via the Professional Standards Authority to statutory regulation via the HCPC to do so, under the cover of this Bill.

The objective of the bill : Provide that the Health and Care Professions Council be the regulatory body for counsellors and psychotherapists; to prohibit gay to straight conversion therapy; to make consequential provision for the protection of children and adults; and for connected purposes.

Point (5) of the Bill : Agreement to abide by the code shall be a condition of admission to the register maintained by the Council under the Health and Social Work Professions 15 Order 2001 (“the register“).

 So this is a change of Regulatory Authority, you are legislating.

– Details from the conversion therapy questionnaire which triggered this private members’ bill show a number of gaps in the information supporting this Bill.

a) It has not been established the extent to which Conversion Therapy is currently practiced – it is banned by all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies who have signed a memorandum of understanding[i] condemning the practice.

[i] See https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Memorandum-of-understanding-on-conversion-therapy.pdf

b) There seems to be no data on how many of those currently giving Conversion Therapy are regulated, so there is no way of conducting a risk analysis of regulated versus unregulated professions offering & giving Conversion Therapy.

c) There is no information about how many complaints of harm have been received. This Bill alleges that everyone receiving this banned therapy will be harmed. On what statistics is this based?

d) There is no information about how many people currently offer Conversion Therapy. Is it 2? or 50? & should Parliament be supporting such a bill to legislate against so few?

e) There appears to have been no thought about how this move towards statutory legislation will affect the tens of thousands of Counsellors & Therapists currently practicing, who do not offer or support Conversion Therapy.

f) There is no information about the numbers of recipients of Conversion Therapy, which suggests it is widespread. How many & where are they located? Is this a UK problem? Are they on the increase? Why did they volunteer for Conversion Therapy in the first place or was coercion used, in which case can existing laws be used?

It would appear that there is no evidence that Counselling and Psychotherapy are involved in Conversion Therapy, so there is no need to regulate them. Existing provisions are working. Further, it appears that concern, which is not evidence-based, over Conversion Therapy is being used by those who seek and will benefit from statutory regulation by the HCPC, to promote a change in regulator for all of Counselling and Psychotherapy.  Have you taken this into consideration? What are those who seek this legislation going to gain?

It would be wise to stop this Bill’s progress through Parliament in its tracks.

Yours sincerely,

Julia Evans

Lacanian Psychoanalyst

_________________________________________

The background to the Bill

In July 2017, the Government launched a survey to gather more information about the experiences of LGBT people in the UK. The survey response was unprecedented. Over 108,000 people participated, making it the largest national survey of LGBT people in the world to date.

The results of the Government’s research were published by Government Equalities Office  and The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP on 3rdJuly 2018. See

– Policy paper

LGBT Action Plan 2018: Improving the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people

Available here

– Or Command Paper

LGBT Action Plan 2018: Improving the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people

Available here

In Appendix 1 are quoted all the references to ‘Conversion Therapy’ in the Government’s LGBT Action Plan 2018.  I wish I had seen this report before I wrote the above letter – it would have been much stronger.

On p4 Conversion Therapy is linked to hate crime, so presumably Therapists are linked to perpetrators of hate crime.

P14 confuses those who have been offered ‘Conversion Therapy’ (presumably in a religious context though this is probably not known) with those who have undergone ‘Conversion Therapy’. No details are given as to why they have ‘undergone’ Conversion Therapy – was it pressure from their families or pressure from the religious establishment? Anyway as in the above letter, the Government does not know how many of those offering Conversion Therapy are registered with the voluntary regulated Counselling & Psychotherapy Associations. I suspect none, so why are they being regulated?

P14 2% have undergone Conversion Therapy, further 5% have been offered it. So 2,160 of the Government’s sample have undergone Conversion Therapy & a further 5,400 have been offered it. Those who have come into contact with Conversion Therapy and responded to the 2017 survey total 7,560. It puzzles me why the Government defines turning down Conversion Therapy as the equivalent of a hate crime. I would also like to know in what context this offer is being made. In a church or mosque or other religious establishment? In which case, why are Counsellors & Psychotherapists being punished by tighter regulation? See Appendix 2 for a breakdown by race.

P14 The Government defines Conversion Therapy as harmful – on what grounds? They have a sample of 2,160 people. How many more received Conversion Therapy and view it as successful? There needs to be efforts made to find people who do not see it as harmful. As my letter above, if manipulation or coercion has been used on these people, may be existing laws should be used to stop this abuse of trust.

P15 The Government rushes to law to solve a non-existent problem – that counsellors & Psychotherapists are giving ‘Conversion Therapy’ – and states it will protect these vulnerable people.  I wrote extensively between 2008 and 2012 about the Government’s perverse practice of providing protection. The Armed Forces are in place to provide protection against invasion etc and the Police are in place to provide protection against criminal activity. If a crime has been committed, then the Government, by its own laws, should be reporting it to the Police, not inventing new legislation which goes sneakily through the Privy Council. This means the Government is in control, using top-down power, just as King Henry VIII who designed Orders through the Privy Council wanted – CONTROL at any cost. Finally, the Government denies doing just what they are doing – preventing access to Counsellors & Psychotherapists registered with the Professional Standards Authority.

P29 The Government finally admits it needs a UK-wide approach before banning Conversion Therapy. So where do these 7,000 respondents to their survey live.  In the South-East? In the rest of England? Any in Scotland or Northern Ireland not forgetting Wales? I suspect not, as this bill is built upon wishful fantasies that the Government wishes to project a powerful image of saving each of their subjects from harm. Anyone out there heard of the sin of megalomania?

In my opinion they would do better concentrating on retracting from Brexit and treating EU nationals and the Windrush generation with respect and thanking them for their contribution to the UK. No Government in over 50 years of being a UK voter, has brought such shame on me. I have in my clinic several EU nationals suffering from stress, because of UK Government actions. I have and continue to apologise to friends and neighbours because the UK vilifies those who live or seek refuge on our shores. It is very embarrassing. In the meantime, the Government seeks to vilify all Counsellors & Psychotherapists, with no evidence that it is they who are actually providing the ‘Conversion Therapy’.

 

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London

 

__________________________________________________

Appendix 1 : All the references to ‘Conversion Therapy’ in the Government’s Action Plan 2018.

Policy paper :

LGBT Action Plan 2018: Improving the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people

In response to the National LGBT survey, this LGBT Action Plan outlines firm commitments to tackle some of the biggest issues facing LGBT people.

Published 3 July 2018

From:

Government Equalities Office  and The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP

Details

In July 2017, the Government launched a national survey of LGBT people. The survey was open to anyone who identified as having a minority sexual orientation, gender identity or had variations in sex characteristics. It asked questions about people’s experiences of living in the UK and in accessing public services. We asked questions about education, healthcare, personal safety and employment.

The survey received more than 108,000 responses, making it the largest national survey of its kind anywhere in the world. This response was unprecedented, and it was a significant undertaking to analyse the results. We have now published the results from the national LGBT survey in the form of a research report and a summary report, and we hope that the findings will be a valuable resource, not only for government, but also for everyone working to support LGBT people.

The Government is committed to taking bold action on the results of the survey. This ‘LGBT Action Plan’ explains how we will advance the rights of LGBT people both at home and abroad, and improve the way that public services work for them. Our vision is for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics, to be able to live safe, happy and healthy lives where they can be themselves without fear of discrimination.

Published 3 July 2018

From Command Paper

p4 That is why I am pleased that one of my first acts as the new Minister for Women and Equalities is to publish this comprehensive LGBT Action Plan. With over 75 commitments, the cross-Government plan sets out how we will improve the lives of LGBT people over the course of this Parliament. Some of the key actions include:

  • Appointing a national LGBT health adviser to provide leadership on reducing the health inequalities that LGBT people face;
  • Extending the anti-homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying programme in schools;
  • Bringing forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK; and
  • Taking further action on LGBT hate crime – improving the recording and reporting of, and police response to, hate crime.

P5 The survey received more than 108,000 responses, making it the largest national survey of its kind anywhere in the world. This response was unprecedented, and it was a significant undertaking to analyse the results. We have now published the results from the national LGBT survey, and we hope that the findings will be a valuable resource, not only for government, but also for everyone working to support LGBT people.

Government Equalities Office : LGBT Action Plan, Improving the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people

p4 We will act so that LGBT people feel safe in their own homes and in their communities. Our survey shows that many LGBT people do not report hate incidents they experience and that the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy is still alive in our country. We will bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK, and take further action on hate crime as part of our upcoming refresh of the 2016 Hate Crime Action Plan.

P14 Safety

The national LGBT survey asked questions about how open respondents were about their LGBT status and any incidents they had experienced that were motivated by prejudice towards them as an LGBT person. We asked respondents both if they had experienced any incidents at home and if they had experienced incidents outside the home. We also asked about whether respondents had been offered or had undergone so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in an attempt to ‘cure’ them of being LGBT.

Many respondents said they had experienced an incident committed by someone they did not live with, and the majority did not report it to anyone. Our survey showed that, despite the progress made on LGBT rights in the UK, most respondents avoided being open about their LGBT identity in public because they feared a negative reaction from others. Some of the most important findings were that:

  1. 40% of survey respondents had experienced a least one negative incident involving someone they did not live with, and 29% experienced at least one negative incident involving someone they did live with due to their LGBT status in the 12 months preceding the survey
  2. More than 91% of respondents said the most serious incident they had experienced in the preceding 12 months had not been reported
  3. 2% of respondents had undergone conversion therapy in an attempt to ‘cure’ them of being LGBT, and a further 5% had been offered it

We will act so that LGBT people feel safe in their own homes and in their communities. We want LGBT people to feel comfortable reporting incidents they experience, and we are not prepared to stand idly by as harmful practices such as conversion therapy happen in our country.

P15  What we will do

We will bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK. These activities are wrong, and we are not willing to let them continue. Led by the Government Equalities Office, we will fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy. Our intent is protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial or faith-based context. We are not trying to prevent LGBT people from seeking legitimate medical support or spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

P29  Whilst this is a national action plan, it covers some policy areas that are devolved. It will have varying levels of effect across the four nations
of the UK, owing to existing devolution arrangements. The majority of the commitments in this action plan will have effect in England only, since policy areas such as health and education are fully devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some commitments, such as those on justice, policing and gender recognition, will have effect in Wales as well. Other commitments, for example on ending conversion therapy, will require a UK-wide approach.

_______________________________________________________

Appendix 2:

From : Government proposes ban on the ‘abhorrent’ practice of LGBT conversion therapy by Madeleine Davies in Church Times on 6thJuly 2018 : Available here

In its 75-point LGBT action plan, published on Tuesday, the Government said that it would “fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering, or conducting conversion therapy.

Our intent is protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial, or faith-based context. We are not trying to prevent LGBT people from seeking legitimate medical support or spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Its national survey of 108,000 LGBT people found that two per cent had undergone conversion therapy, and a further five per cent had been offered it. It was more common among Black British (13 per cent) and Asian British (14 per cent) respondents than White (seven per cent), and most likely among Muslim respondents: 19 per cent compared with ten per cent of Christian respondents.

 

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London

 

Related texts

Opposing the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) and Conversion Therapy Bill or here

Politics, ethics, regulation and the talking therapies : current positions emerging from Parliamentary debate by Julia Evans on 20th November 2013 or here

Use of power here

Ethics here

Responses to the UK Government action here

Government action here

UK Government here

Lacanian Transmission : here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Of the clinic here

Some Lacanian History : here

Topology : here

Lacanian Transmission : here