In a milestone moment for LGBT rights, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has issued a statement that acknowledges the horrors of subjecting queer people to aversion therapy.
Professor Wendy Burn is the president of the college, and expressed “profound regret” in her statement about the use of the “therapy,” which includes exposing people to electric shocks to “cure” them of their homosexuality.
“There are no words that can repair the damage done to anyone who has ever been deemed ’mentally unwell’ simply for loving a person of the same sex,” Burn wrote. “For those who were then ’treated’ using non-evidence based procedures by mental health professionals up until as late as the 1970s, the trauma of such experiences can never be erased.”
The statement was reportedly a response to a Buzzfeed interview last month with Jeremy Gavins, who explained that exposure to multiple hours of electric shocks every week for six months in the 1970s left him suffering from depression, anxiety and PTSD.
Patients like Gavins were exposed to the shocks while being presented with pictures of naked men in an attempt to get them to associate pain with homosexual feelings.
The college has spoken out against conversion therapy in the past, which uses talking instead of drugs or shocks to make people straight, but this marks the first time that it admitted that its own former practices were unacceptable.
“We can’t re-write history, but what we can do is make it clear that today our doors are open and that principles of equality and diversity will be passionately upheld,” Burn wrote. “It is with openness, kindness and humility that we hold our hands up, open our doors and fight tirelessly to provide the ethical, evidenced-based mental health treatment that all of us deserve.”