Aversion therapy

Aversion therapy – letter to the Royal College of Psychiatrists

To: The Secretary,
Royal College of Psychiatrists,
17 Belgrave Square, London SW1.

9-July-1996

Dear Vanessa Cameron,

We are writing to express our concern at the long history of psychiatric abuse suffered by lesbians, gays and bisexuals. For most of this century, the psychiatric profession labelled us as “mentally ill” and “pathological”. Because we were deemed to be sick, we were pressured, and sometimes forced, to undergo psychiatric treatment in a bid to make us heterosexual.

This treatment consisted, most notoriously, of aversion therapy: the administration of electric shocks or nausea-inducing drugs, coinciding with the showing of homoerotic images. These attempts to cure homosexuals were common until the mid-1970s. They caused untold suffering and harm to many gay and bisexual people.

Aversion therapy is still used occasionally today. John Beckett, a naval weapons engineer, was offered aversion therapy by the Royal Navy when it was discovered he was gay. The fact that there are still apparently psychiatrists who are willing to administer this barbaric psuedo-medicine is scandalous.

It is time the Royal College of Psychiatrists took official action to stamp out lingering homophobia vithin the profession. Specifically, we urge the Royal College to:

  1. Renounce the practice of aversion therapy and apologise to the lesbian and gay community for its usage.
  2. Instruct your members to halt the use of all therapies that attempt to cure homosexuality and urge them to root out homophobic bias in their dealings with patients.
  3. Produce an up-to-date report on how the various schools of psychiatry currently view homosexuality and the different forms of treatment they offer to allegedly dysfunctional lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
  4. Call on the government to establish a network of specialised NHS counselling services to help gay and bisexual men who have been sexually and emotionally damaged by aversion therapy.
  5. Support the campaign to compensate aversion therapy victims.

Yours sincerely,

OutRage!