Leading UK psychological professions and Stonewall unite against conversion therapy

It’s been a very long time in coming and it’s really hard to understand why we had such a battle to extend the provisions of the first Memorandum of Understanding to include people who are gender diverse and asexual.  It has caused ructions of which I’m unable to speak, but I am indebted to the Pink Therapy representatives on the working group: Pam Gawler-Wright, Meg-John Barker and Kris Black.  I also want to name check our allies in COSRT (Julie Sale) and the British Psychological Society (Igi Moon) for their endurance and commitment to ensuring this document comes to light.

It has caused ructions of which I’m unable to speak, but I am indebted to the Pink Therapy representatives on the working group: Pam Gawler-Wright, Meg-John Barker and Kris Black.  I also want to name check our allies in COSRT (Julie Sale) and the British Psychological Society (Igi Moon) for their endurance and commitment to ensuring this document comes to light.

“This document has the potential to change the way therapy is delivered in the UK for future generations, as it requires therapists to be trained to work with gender and sexual diverse clients.”  Dominic Davies – CEO Pink Therapy

The official and agreed media release is below:

An updated memorandum of understanding (MoU) against conversion therapy has been launched today, which makes it clear that conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation (including asexuality) is unethical, potentially harmful and is not supported by evidence. 

Conversion therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

The primary purpose of the 2017 MoU is the protection of the public through a commitment to ending the practice of ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK.  The 2017 MoU updates one released in 2015 at the Department of Health, which focused exclusively on sexual orientation, and is endorsed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charity Stonewall.

The MoU also intends to ensure that:

  • The public are well informed about the risks of conversion therapy
  • Healthcare professionals and psychological therapists are aware of the ethical issues relating to conversion therapy
  • New and existing psychological therapists are appropriately trained
  • Evidence into conversion therapy is kept under regular review
  • Professionals from across the health, care and psychological professions work together to achieve the above goals.

Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses. Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.

You can download the document here.

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Fuming about Funding

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This blog is going to be a rant. It’s based on my observations over the last couple of decades as our sterling third sector organisations (they were called ‘Vol Orgs’ back then) have faced more and more hurdles to survive. The Chief Executives spend the majority of their time writing funding applications late into the night and over the weekends, chasing smaller and smaller grants. That’s less time on strategic planning of service development and even less time supporting the development of their staff and volunteers. It’s all become about chasing the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

I was talking with a colleague over the weekend whose community mental health project is looking likely to be losing its funding. The project has been around for decades and is well-established and highly respected. But the process of Clinical Care Commissioning has decided in its infinite wisdom to award funding to a new project based on the medical model. Essentially the privatisation of mental health services – diverting money away from the vital third sector which has worked over the years to build solid relationships with their local community.

I’ve seen this happen time and time again – the most significant examples have been in HIV services in London where well-established organisations like PACE and GMFA lost their funding because capricious HIV Commissioners decided to try innovative (untested) new ways to reach out to at-risk communities. Thriving groupwork programmes at both charities were cut to train volunteer peer health educators to go into gay male social spaces (pubs and clubs) and try to engage them in conversations about their sexual practices and prevention strategies.

Over recent years, the NHS has gone through so many restructures that it’s hard to keep up with the changes. Funding became devolved from one source to another. Projects often need to apply for grants to their Local Councils and the Clinical Care Commissioning Groups and various charitable trusts. Each award comes with its criteria for auditing and monitoring of the relatively arbitrary and frequently unachievable targets that are set. This means that staff have to spend a great deal of time working on the quarterly reports to demonstrate how they’ve met (or otherwise) the targets. I am not arguing against auditing and monitoring of how taxpayers money is spent. Of course, this is necessary. It’s just that it can be so bureaucratic and laborious that it diverts skilled workers away from actually doing the work and creates another layer of paid bureaucrats doing the monitoring!

When the new project fails to meet the targets, funding is withdrawn. By the time this happens the previously well-established group has folded, or staff have moved on, and so our communities are left without the vital work, which had been identified and recognised, undone. Projects are often unable to speak publicly about their funders due to confidentiality clauses, and the threat of having their funding withdrawn makes them as compliant as the man whose dominatrix has a hand firmly gripping their balls.

One of the principal reasons I’ve never applied for external funding is because of the strings attached make one a puppet which dances for many masters. Chasing an ever decreasing pot of gold, competing against well-established services – and ruthlessly undercutting them. I just didn’t have the stomach for it.

We need to speak out and support our third sector organisations and the innovative work they do and challenge cuts to services.

Please support the work of the LGBT Consortium http://www.lgbtconsortium.org.uk/ 

Dominic Davies
CEO – Pink Therapy
16 October 2017

Gay Essentials: A NEW weekly meeting group/workshop in London – for Men Who Love Men!

Good luck to colleagues Nick Field and Gian Montagna and all the men who participate in this interesting group

Nick Field Counselling, Central/South West London

Word Art (1)-1I have recently got together with a colleague of mine, Gian Montagna, to set up and facilitate a new weekly meeting group in London, for gay, bi, trans or questioning men.

Run every Monday evening over a period of 3 months (12 sessions), Gay Essentials will be a weekly space to experiment with and explore connecting in deeper, more open and authentic ways with other gay/bi/trans men.

Gay Essentials will also be an opportunity for men who love men to experience their own rite-of-passage into a more authentic, sexual and relationally diverse adulthood, whilst also sharing this journey with others, in a safe, contained and holding environment.

The issue of a [lack of] proper initiation and rite-of-passage into manhood is particularly relevant for men who have sex with/desire/have romantic or platonic relationships or want to experience a more authentic intimacy with, other men today: From the environment we grew up in, to the…

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The Hijra community and the complex path to decolonising gender in Bangladesh

A really helpful article making some important distinctions about Hijra and Trans.

The Queerness

The need to understand gender as a spectrum must include non-Western identities and a move towards decolonising queerness. Ibtisam Ahmed explores the history of the Hijra community in Bangladesh.


Ways of exploring and experiencing queerness are extremely diverse, and this is being accepted by a growing number of people in recent years. It is an encouraging development but it still carries its pitfalls. One of the biggest challenges that is still being faced is a false equivalence of conceptualising all types of genders and sexualities through a strictly Western lens. In particular, there is often a misconception in cisgender activist circles of misunderstanding non-Western third gender identities.

In Bangladesh, the third gender identity is known as Hijra. The community is an indelible part of not only queer culture but of the national social fabric. Centuries before Bangladesh was even conceived as a modern nation state, and even before the…

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Pride in London and my Queer journey – a personal perspective and response to @LondonLGBTPride

A brave and open account of the intersectionality of identities and how we all have a responsibility to fight for true diversity and inclusion of the more marginalised in our communities.  How we white cisgender men need to recognise our privilege and make space for others.  So much respect for Edward Lord here in speaking his truth.

Source: Pride in London and my Queer journey – a personal perspective and response to @LondonLGBTPride

My journey as a gay man with depression

A helpful blog about the challenges of depression

The Queerness

Guest writer, Peter Minkoff, recounts his very personal journey with depression as part of our mental health month.


There was a time in my life when I absolutely loathed the word ‘depression’. Whenever someone is having a bad day, they nonchalantly throw around the phrase ‘I’m depressed’ – no, you’re not, you’re just having a sucky day. I felt so frustrated with people around me because they had no clue what real depression is. I, on the other hand, did. You’ve probably heard this story a thousand times, but no depression story is the same, and each and every person fighting depression is different, their experience is different. It took a lot of self-convincing for me to share my story, but I’m doing it because I truly hope that my voice will be heard and that some struggling gay person will take away something positive from it.

The beginning

Let me…

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