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Some UK health workers still believe gay patients can be ‘cured’

By Will Stroude

One in 10 UK health and social care workers have overheard a colleague expressing a belief that gay people can be ‘cured’ of their sexuality, a new study has found.

The Unhealthy Attitudes study, released by LGBT charity Stonewall today (July 23), surveyed 3,001 health and social care professionals who deal with patients on the front line across the NHS and private sectors about attitudes toward sexuality and gender issues.


The shocking findings show that nationally, 10% of respondents have been in a position where colleagues have expressed support of gay ‘cure’ therapy – a figure that rose to 22% in London.

The study also found that anti-gay bullying was common in the healthcare profession, with a quarter of lesbian, gay and bisexual staff experiencing homophobic and biphobic abuse from colleagues in the last five years.

Equally, one in five have heard colleagues make negative remarks about people who are trans, using trans slurs, in the last five years.

25% of all health and social care staff say their employer has never provided them with any equality and diversity training, while a massive 60% of those who hear negative remarks about LGB people do not report it.


Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive at Stonewall, said of the findings: “Health and social care services have a duty to treat people fairly and equally. Yet, as this report shows, there are worrying gaps in knowledge and training relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.

“This is creating a healthcare system that treats both its LGBT patients and colleagues unfairly leading to inevitable on-going health inequalities.

“Unhealthy Attitudes also contains some truly shocking revelations, such as evidence that high numbers of patient-facing staff witness colleagues stating their belief in a gay “cure”. This is incredibly harmful and dangerous and should be publicly denounced immediately.

“We are releasing this research to highlight the importance of investing in and committing to LGBT equality. Stonewall, and LGBT people and organizations up and down the country, have the skills and resources to work with healthcare providers, health and social care education providers, NHS Trusts and social care organizations to achieve this. We want to ensure that everyone, everywhere is accepted without exception.”

Back in January, NHS staff in England were explicitly instructed that they should no longer refer people to groups offering gay ‘conversion’ therapy.

Fourteen organisations – including NHS England and the British Psychological Society – signed an agreement to stop offering the therapy patients. While the controversial ‘treatment’ isn’t provided on the NHS, it’s understood that in rare cases staff have put patients in touch with organisations who provide it.

Last month, it was reported that Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan is preparing to take action against the controversial ‘treatment’ – click here to find out more.

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