Therapist goes head-to-head with Peter Tatchell in sexual re-orientation debate
In a packed committee room in the Houses of Parliament, four leading figures engaged in a lively debate on therapy for those with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction.
The debate happened two days before a professional conduct inquiry into a complaint against Dr Mike Davidson, a therapist who advocates therapy for people with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction.
Dr Davidson took part in the debate on the legitimacy and freedom to offer the therapy, along with Peter Tatchell, Professor Michael King and Dr Joseph Berger.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said that the motivation behind the therapy was homophobic rather than scientific.
Prof King, Director of Mental Health Sciences Unit, University College London, also expressed strong objections against therapy dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction. He argued that it was based on “moral outrage,” not science.
Both men cited research apparently demonstrating the innate nature of homosexuality.
But Dr Berger, Consultant Psychiatrist and practitioner of the therapy, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Canada, opposed the view that sexual orientation is innate. He stated that it is a concept, not a biological phenomenon, arguing that there is no physical location for it in the brain.
Rejecting the misconception that therapists treating people for unwanted same-sex attraction see homosexuality as a disease, Dr Berger stated: “I treat people, not homosexuality”.
Similarly, Dr Mike Davidson called for a return to a “person-centred” approach to therapy.
Some professional regulatory bodies, such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), have banned sexual reorientation therapy.
Dr Davidson reminded attendees that there is a minority in society that wants this kind of therapy. He warned that if the ban put in place by BACP and UKCP remains, these people will be pushed towards a “pray away the gay” situation and said that counsellors who share his position on sexual reorientation therapy would not be able to train or be professionally monitored.
Dr Davidson is a trainee with the British Psychodrama Association (BPA). On a BBC local radio show broadcast in January 2012 he commented on his position in favour of therapy offered to those experiencing unwanted same-sex attraction.
As a result of these comments, he became the subject of a complaint that his views contravened BPA policies. There will be a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) Inquiry into the complaint on 1 February 2013 in London.
The debate was jointly organised by Core Issues Trust, of which Dr Davidson is a director, and Christian Concern. The Christian Legal Centre is supporting Dr Davidson in his response to the PCC inquiry.
Core Issues Trust is a non-profit Christian ministry supporting men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression. It respects the rights of individuals who identify as 'gay' who do not seek change. It does not support gay "marriage".