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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Therapist who claims to be able to ‘cure’ homosexuality loses appeal against suspension

Whilst channel hopping tonight, I was surprised to see Leslie Pilkington sitting opposite Jon Snow on Channel 4 news. If you have erased her name from your memory (and who would blame you), Leslie Pilkington is a qualified psychotherapist who believes that homosexuality is an illness that can be ‘cured’ through conversion therapy (by people denying their feelings for others of the same sex).

Three years ago, gay journalist Patrick Strudwick went undercover to find out just how serious Leslie was about ‘treating’ homosexuality. Channel 4 news showed a reconstruction of this meeting in which Patrick posed as gay man Matthew who wanted to ‘become straight’.

Patrick’s recording of his investigation shows that homophobia is definitely not dead... Ms. Pilkington not only tried to link homosexual lifestyles with previous sexual abuse and freemasonry, she also claimed that homosexuality was a mental illness that with her help, could be ‘changed’. Thanks to Patrick Strudwick’s investigation, the British Medical Association subsequently condemned conversion therapy, and Pilkington was suspended in 2010 by the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) for breaching the BACP ethical framework.

Having lost her appeal against the decision to suspend her from the BACP, Leslie Pilkington sat opposite Channel 4 reporter Jon Snow tonight to give her point of view on the subject. It has to be said that Jon Snow handled her backwards views very well. Despite the therapist asserting that her patients came to her asking to be ‘helped’ and were ‘very distressed’, Jon continued to push the fact that her opinions were homophobic and immoral. ‘What is normal?’ Jon asked as Leslie insisted that gay people were ‘an aberration which is a deviation from normal.’ She didn’t have a leg to stand on. She did however, get air time for her homophobic views. Although many people are outraged by her ‘change therapy’ methods, unfortunately I’m sure there are people out there who agree with her. Can she not see that perhaps the depression she encounters from her patients is not as a result of their sexuality but as a reaction to how people like her view them?

What baffles me about people like Leslie Pilkington is that there seems to be no clear reason for their hatred towards homosexuality. Are gay people physically hurting them? Does the way we live our lives change their daily routines? Love is love; we can’t explain how it happens and we should not deny it. Through education and awareness-raising, homophobia can be challenged and we can beat it.