Not An Illness: Two Ox students have made a film against LGBT conversion therapy

A short video will be released at the end of the week

Any Oxford student will tell you that it is impossible to graduate without gaining at least some awareness of LGBTQ issues. Since my arrival about two and a half years ago, I have been educated in everything from the importance of non-gendered pronouns, to how to correctly apply glitter. However, one issue does seem to have been largely overlooked by the LGBTQ warriors and Allies in this town: LGBTQ Conversion Therapy.

Having spoken to many people about it, the general assumption seems to be that it simply does not happen in the UK; or if it does, it isn’t considered a legal act. However, far from being illegal, LGBTQ conversion therapy in Britain is actually offered within the NHS.

A 2009 survey of over 1,300 accredited UK mental health professionals found that more than 200 had offered some form of conversion therapy to their patients. What is more alarming, however, is that 40% of these patients received treatment inside as NHS practise. This is not an attack on the NHS or the vital service they provide in this country. This is a condemnation of the fact that certain individuals working within an institution that is barely able to meet the legitimate health needs of the population are still attempting to “cure” homosexuality and transgenderism.

Huge amounts of research has been done into the fact that LGBTQ conversion therapy is ineffective: there is no illness to be cured in the first place and forcing people to repress their sexuality will not change that. What is achieved are higher rates of drug abuse, depression and suicide amongst victims of LGBTQ conversion therapy. We are not just talking about a waste of resources; we are talking about a systematic abuse of minorities by a public body.

It is for this reason that myself and an ex-Oxford student started the campaign ‘Not An Illness’. At the end of this week, we will release a short film depicting a fictional conversion therapy session based on the types of techniques used by some conversion therapists. It will contain a link to the government petition to make conversion therapy illegal in the UK. If we receive 10,000 signatures, the government will have to issue a response.

Should we receive 100,000 the issue will be debated in Parliament. The legal offering of LGBTQ conversion therapy sends the message that being LGBTQ means you are in some way broken and need to be fixed. If you think that is wrong, then please share the video and sign the petition. At the moment the campaign is Oxford based, but if we can get people talking about the issue outside of Oxford then we could actually make a difference. Nothing is happening to stop this outdated and harmful practice because people don’t know it’s happening. At the moment the government thinks that we don’t care, so now is the time to show them that we do.