50 years ago UoB were providing gay ‘conversion therapy’

The university are now claiming it is an ‘external matter’

In the 1970s a man went to his GP for advice about his sexuality, but was referred to the University of Birmingham to be “cured”.

The man, who remains anonymous, visited the university’s psychology department several times a week for months to undergo electric shock ‘conversion therapy’.

He has now suffered from “extreme” post traumatic stress disorder for more than 40 years, he told the BBC.

The man was told that a sex change would be better for him than continuing to live as a gay man. He decided to continue with the therapy delivered at the University of Birmingham which he was guaranteed would be successful.

Describing the therapy, Chris told the BBC, “I would be sat in a room, with a projector screen and photographs to look through. An electrode was attached to my ankle and wrist.

“A photo of a man would pop up, and if you weren’t quick enough to flick to the next picture, you would get a hefty electric shock. Then photos of women would pop up, with no consequence at all.”

Following the treatment, researchers at the university encouraged the man to engage in relationships with women.

The man decided to begin looking for closure on the traumatic therapy three years ago, and managed to find a post-graduate student who had been working in the psychology department at the university at the time of the man’s treatment. The student managed to provide him with evidence of the electric shock therapy.

However, “even with undeniable proof I was met with an absolute wall of silence by the university. They tried to deny that this ever happened,” he told the BBC.

The university claimed that they do not keep records further back than 25 years, so had no record of the therapy. The man who had undergone the therapy persisted and the university eventually changed their response.

The new response from the university claimed that the therapy was carried out by a researcher working on a private project – nothing to do with the university.

However, the man that suffered the treatment explains that the meetings took place in the University of Birmingham’s psychology department, with university staff, students, and equipment.

Since the article was released by the BBC, three more people have come forward about their experiences.

The university have directed The Birmingham Tab to an article on their intranet which contains their comment on the accusations. 

“While we are unable to find any evidence that this was a University sanctioned research project, we are aware that during the late 1960s/70s there may have been some isolated activity of this nature. We believe that this was wholly inappropriate,” the University state in their article.

The article also provides links to support for students and staff that may have been impacted by the news.

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