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Although evidence suggests that therapies to cure homosexuality can be harmful, a sixth of British therapists still try to help gay, bisexual and lesbian patients become heterosexual.

Michael King of University College London, who revelead these facts, said that the number of therapists who said they had tried to help a person change their sexual orientation was surprising.

King also said that such an approach could provoke greater anxiety and confusion in homosexual individuals and that there is very little evidence these attempts would be effective.

His survey showed that 17% of therapists and psychiatrists working in Britain had sought to help their patients reduce "gay or lesbian feelings" through therapy.

Treating homosexuality as a mental illness was more common in the United States and Britain during the 1970s and 1980s, when so-called "aversion" therapy was in vogue. Such treatments involved tactics such as pairing homosexual imagery with electric shocks to induce feelings of revulsion. The World Health Organization only removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1992.

King and colleagues asked over 1,400 therapists if they would try to change a patient's sexual orientation if asked to do so. Only 4 % declared that they would but in response to further questions, one in six said that they had already tried to help patients control or change their sexual orientation through a range of therapies.

The study also showed that some therapists now use more subtle strategies aimed at getting patients to "control" their homosexual feelings, and eventually change their sexual orientation.

Reasons provided by therapists in the anonymous study ranged from their own religious and moral views about homosexuality to patients' anxiety over discrimination.


I believe people are born either straight or gay, or somewhere in between. Seeking to suppress their true feelings will only prevent people from achieving true happiness.