The Equality Act of 2010 rejects discrimination against any sexual orientation, (past, actual or perceived) including those who experience or aspire to change orientation, as was established in a 2014 High Court appellate ruling:
Why ‘ex-gays’ are protected under the Equality Act (2010)
“…it would be surprising if less favourable treatment because a person in the past was homosexual, but is now heterosexual, was not equally prohibited. This does not require that “ex-gays” are to be regarded as a separate category of sexual orientation. Discrimination against a person because of his or her past actual or perceived sexual orientation, or because his or her sexual orientation has changed, is discrimination “because of…..sexual orientation”. There is no requirement in the EA that discrimination must relate to a person’s current sexual orientation. All that is required is that the discrimination is “because of sexual orientation.”1
PSA’s statement regarding gay conversion (sic) therapy
“The Professional Standards Authority believes gay conversion therapy is inconsistent with our obligations under the Equality Act. As part of the process of assessing its application for accreditation, we raised the issue of conversion therapy and its implications for public protection with the Association of Christian Counsellors.
This is an example of the Accredited Voluntary Registers scheme improving standards without the need for regulation.”
Last updated on : Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:33 PM Author : Professional Standards Authority
Compaint to the PSA from CIT
I write to register a formal complaint
(1) that by this statement the PSA contributes to discrimination against individuals who voluntarily seek support for aspirations to reduce homosexual feelings and/or practices and who are unwilling to identify as homosexual. It does so debarring registers supporting professionals willing to do so. Such persons are now forced to seek support informally, rather than from registered therapists. The PSA statement is in disregard of minority orientations experiencing, but rejecting identification with homosexual feelings. The PSA’s discriminative action represented in this statement
(2) closes the door to those organisations seeking a register, who do not share values denying autonomous individ- uals the right to explore change or try to reduce orientation using the support of registered professionals. Such action now guarantees a rise in alternative structures and registers and informal counselling initiatives which may be less safe than those administered by regulators. Such disenfranchised professionals will be denied the benefit of collegial supervision, continu- ing professional development and professional indemnity insurance. The PSA’s statement
(3) is misleading to the public because it fails to acknowledge the fact that what it calls ‘conver- sion’ therapy – most likely the application of standard therapeutic modalities to explore change on a continuum – is not illegal in the United Kingdom.
Response from PSA
“Accreditation does not assess or validate the efficacy of a particular therapy. The Authority will not test whether or not a particular therapy has better results than other therapies. The Authority does not hold any register, or accredit individuals…
In consideration of the equality duty we have had regard to the respected body of professional opinion from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society who consider that this form of therapy is potentially harmful. Indeed, all the major Counselling and psychotherapy organisations in the UK have committed to rejecting the use of conversion therapy. Whilst the Authority does not evaluate the efficacy of any particular therapies, we do not consider that offering conversion therapy to service users is compatible with the duty to eliminate discrimination and harassment towards gay people or people who are perceived to be gay…
…individuals are free to choose whether or not to use a practitioner on an accredited register or to seek support from a practitioner on a register not accredited by the Authority…
With regard to your third complaint that the Authority’s statement is misleading to the public, since the public are free to choose their own therapist, we disagree that it is necessary to comment on the legality of the therapy.”
Extracts from PSA’s Response Letter (24 March 2015)
In their Response to the PSA (20 May, 2015) , the Trust argued the following:
(1) Given the PSA’s Public Sector Equality Duty or ‘general equality duty’ please clarify how the PSA considers its present policy to fulfil this even-handedly to both those with and without protected characteristics with respect to sexual orientation.
(2) Please explain how the public is protected when both professional and informal therapists operating in this area are excluded from recognised training, supervision, CPD and insurance and the public have no professional body to raise concerns
(3) Given the obvious professional sanctions against practitioners in this field, please clarify the sense in which the PSA means individuals (those unwilling to renounce their therapeutic goals to reduce feelings) are “free to choose” a (safe) professional therapist to assist them – when such individuals have been ostracised from professional collegiality.
Response from Harry Cayton OBE, 1 June 2015.
We do not agree that our decision prevents clients from seeking support from counsellors on Accredited Registers. Indeed the MOU makes it clear rhat the register’s position on this is not intended to discourage people who may be conflicted about their sexuality from seeking help. It does not preclude clients from seeking help from whatever source they choose. However we consider that the MOU and guidelines issued by the Accredited Registers provide helpful clarification on their ethical anfd legal responsibilities.
1Paragraph 98 CO72842012, In the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) On Appeal from the High Court, Queen’s Bench Division, Administrative Court, Before Mrs Justice Lang, Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Briggs, And Lord Justice Christopher Clarke: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2014/34.html