UK – Conversion Therapy Supported by a Quarter of Doctors at BMA Annual Meeting

Over a quarter (26%) of doctors do not support the British Medical Association (BMA) lobbying to ban LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, according to a vote cast at last week’s annual representatives meeting (ARM).

The results have sent shock waves among medics who identify with the LGBTQ+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer plus] community, says Dr Emma Runswick, a junior doctor working in NHS trusts in Greater Manchester, who argued for the BMA to lobby the Government to ban the practice.

After the debate she experienced her first ever panic attack, such was her shock that such a high percentage of her profession did not support a ban on conversion therapy – the practice of actively attempting to change someone’s sexual or gender orientation. Many other LGBTQ+ medics also expressed distress at the result on social media.

“The result [specifically the 26% against lobbying the Government] affects how we see our fellow professionals, because ​even if there are other reasons, it feels like a quarter would like to allow conversion therapy on LGBTQ+ people. This is an attack on our personhood as queer people. It’s personally very difficult,” Dr Runswick said.

However, despite the shock, she admitted that it was important that the motion had been passed and that the BMA will lobby for a ban on conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people, and lobby the General Medical Council (GMC) to impose sanctions on doctors who practise conversion therapy. “This is a really positive development in the campaign to ban conversion therapy,” added Dr Runswick.

The motion called on the BMA ‘to lobby the UK Government to ensure this damaging practice is banned’; and also to ‘lobby the GMC to introduce sanctions up to and including erasure of medical practitioners performing LGBTQ+ conversion therapy’. 

Overall, the meeting found the practice of LGBTQ+ conversion to be unethical and damaging, with 59% of representatives voting for the BMA to lobby the Government to ensure “this damaging practice is banned”, while 26% were against.

Also, 49% voted in favour of the BMA lobbying the GMC to introduce sanctions against medical practitioners who perform LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, while 35% were against.

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