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Humanists become first Northern Ireland member of member of Coalition Against Conversion Therapy

Northern Ireland Humanists (NIH), alongside Humanists UK, have become members of the Coalition against Conversion Therapy (CACT), a coalition of leading psychological, psychotherapeutic, and counselling organisations committed to ending these harmful practices, and who hope to extend the reach of its activities into Northern Ireland.

Humanists UK has campaigned for a ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ or ‘gay cure’ therapy for many decades. Conversion therapy is a discredited and harmful practice, usually rooted in false and often pseudoscientific religious beliefs about what causes people to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans.

Last year, Northern Ireland Humanists launched a campaign to ensure that government and local health care providers in Northern Ireland sign up to the CACT’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), committing them to support an end to these practices, both within healthcare and in any other settings where these practices take place. Signatory organisations agree that the practice of conversion therapy, whether in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, is unethical and potentially harmful.

As a supporter organisation, Northern Ireland Humanists aims to engage with different government departments, health trusts, and other organisations delivering health care to people in Northern Ireland to support efforts to end these practices, including bringing forward a legislative ban.

As part of this campaign, in 2019 NIH sent freedom of information requests to all health trusts in Northern Ireland which revealed that not one had guidance on tackling conversion therapy.

Recently the Department for Justice and the Department of Communities made a commitment in a meeting with the Department of Health to ban conversion therapy.

Other organisations on the coalition include The British Psychological Society, The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Association of Christian Counsellors, British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, British Psychoanalytic Council, The National Counselling Society, NHS England, NHS Scotland, Relate, Royal College of General Practitioners, and UK Council for Psychotherapy.

Igi Moon the Chair of the MoU said, ‘It is a great honour to have Northern Ireland Humanists and Humanists UK involved in the movement to protect the public from so-called 'Conversion Therapy' and we look forward to working with them to strengthen the case for banning 'conversion therapy' across the UK.’

Kathryn Kerr, NI LGBT Humanists lead commented, ‘We are really excited about becoming members of the Coalition to end Conversion Therapy, and we know this will help us achieve even more when it comes to ending this awful practice that is still being carried out in the UK.’

Boyd Sleator, Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator said, ‘We are very aware of the dangers of conversion therapy and have called for an end to the practice for some time. Now that the Executive is back up and running after a number of years absence we are starting to see movement on this issue. We are also very aware of the pressure different government departments are under at this time, and we are encouraged by the engagement that we have had with them so far on conversion therapy.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator at, Boyd.Sleator@humanism.org.uk or phone 07918975795.

Read more about our work on conversion therapy

Northern Ireland Humanists is a part of Humanists UK, working with the Humanist Association of Ireland. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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