UK gay activist seeks to remove ex-gay therapist’s license
February 25th, 2010
Earlier this year, Patrick Strudwick reported on an under-cover investigation into the UK’s ex-gay therapy movement. One of the therapists he exposed was Dr. Paul Miller, an ex-gay whom had previously receive notoriety when he was mentioned by Iris Robinson, wife of North Ireland’s First Minster (Pink News)
“I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals trying to turn away from what they are engaged in.
“And I have met people who have turned around to become heterosexual.”
Now Strudwick has now reported Dr. Miller to the General Medical Council and is seeking to have him “struck off” from being able to practice due to his reorientation efforts.
I hope his effort fails.
Or, to be more specific, I hope that if the GMC does strike off Dr. Miller, it will not do so for the reasons that Patrick Strudwick is stating. (BBC)
Patrick Strudwick wants the medical governing body, the GMC, to take action against Dr Miller.
“I’m actually the first person in British history to try and get a doctor struck off for treating homosexuality,” he said.
“If Dr Miller is struck off, which I hope he is, this is a test case and will serve as a warning to other psychiatrists and mental health professionals attempting to do this.”
I think that Dr. Miller’s behavior was highly unethical and based in ignorance and prejudice. He crossed borders and sexualized the therapy in ways that should never be allowed. He made wild assertions about the bases of Strudwick’s orientation and provided “information” that is not credible. He chose to believe the bizarre and baseless theories of fringe “counselors” and attempted to apply them to clients. I would not be at all sympathetic if he were seriously curbed in his ability to continue in these behaviors.
But I do not want Dr. Miller to “struck off for treating homosexuality.”
Let me be clear. I do not believe that therapy is effective in changing sexual orientation. If there is any change in attraction, it does not appear to be consistent, permanent, thorough, or traceable to specific therapy protocols. And it appears that the vast majority of persons who seek change in sexual orientation – a change from primarily or exclusively same-sex attracted to primarily or exclusively opposite-sex attracted – never achieve this goal.
But I don’t believe that an out-right ban on therapy for persons who wish to change their orientation is appropriate. While I find the evidence of “change” to be unsubstantial, we do know that some individuals do achieve a change in life patterns which they find to be meaningful and rewarding. Some find tools to manage their sexual impulses, others find coping skills for aligning their faith with their attractions, and some few find a spouse that adequately fulfills their desires.
I would not (and probably could not) find meaning in choosing social goals over internal cohesion, but I have no right to demand that others make the same priorities as me. And I would not want that their ability to seek supporting therapy to be eliminated.
And on a pragmatic level, I know that Mr. Strudwick’s efforts will be trumpeted across the anti-gay media network as an “attempt by militant homosexual activists to silence Christians.” The next attack on our freedoms will include a distorted telling of this tale which, of course, will highlight the reporting to the GMC and will conveniently forget Dr. Miller’s creepy and inappropriate sex talk. I don’t want their dire predictions about how “the UK has banned Christian therapists and we’re next” to have basis.
What I would like to see is a tightening of regulations for those who counsel unhappy same-sex attracted people. I would like for the medical community to disallow affirmative claims for cures that have not been studied, require that clients be provided with the official positions of mental health organizations, enforce prohibitions on inappropriate violations of boundaries, and hold ex-gay therapists to the same standards that other therapists must follow. In other words, if you want a professional license, you have to behave professionally.