Over 400 people have signed a petition demanding UoB to apologise for its historical ‘gay conversion therapy’
Multiple people have now reported incidents of historical conversion therapy at UoB
A UoB student, Grace Ashworth has set up a petition in response to the BBC’s discovery of alleged conversion therapy occurring at UoB back in the 1960s/1970s.
The petition has already received over 400 signatures in less than 24 hours.
Since the BBC’s article, more people have said they were also offered the therapy. Conversion therapy still remains legal in the UK, despite the government pledging to ban it for over two years.
The new response from the university claimed the therapy was carried out by a researcher working on a private project – nothing to do with the university.
The man, who remains anonymous, visited the university’s psychology department several times a week for months to undergo electric shock ‘conversion therapy’.
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.
Grace Ashworth, final year student at UoB and committee member for UoB Labour Society, set up the petition yesterday. “The university has an appalling record on LGBTQ+ rights from the Dubai campus and encouraging staff to conceal their sexualities and gender identity when over there, to refusing to strip Ann Widdecombe of her honorary doctorate and now this,” she told The Birmingham Tab.
Grace is encouraging staff and students to sign the petition, hoping for the university to apologise for its involvement. “Regardless of whether the university was aware of it taking place, they have been complicit in this disgusting practice and we have seen that “Chris” is not the only person who suffered this as others have come forward.”
“I’d encourage students and staff and anybody in the UoB community to sign both this petition and the open letter that WANBA have started,” she told The Birmingham Tab.
📣📣 Students at @unibirmingham are demanding that the university make a meaningful apology and recognise its' role in facilitating conversion therapy 📣📣
Sign the petition 👇👇
— University of Birmingham Labour Students (@BULSonline) December 15, 2020
“I know the university don’t often act on student pressure in this form (considering they did nothing on the Ann Widdecombe petition that received over 25,000 signatures) but this can help to add the pressure on to the university through bad press and student voice and hopefully push for a more meaningful response,” she continued.
The university previously directed the Birmingham Tab to an intranet piece they had released surrounding the incident. “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.