The HCPC has responded in support of the Government Equalities Office (GEO) consultation proposing a ban on practices known as conversion therapy in England and Wales.
The Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK defines conversion therapy as:
"...an umbrella term for a therapeutic approach, or any model or individual viewpoint that demonstrates an assumption that any sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently preferable to any other, and which attempts to bring about a change of sexual orientation or gender identity or seeks to suppress an individual’s expression of sexual orientation or gender identity on that basis."
The GEO has proposed a ban on talking therapies for minors which are aimed at changing the service user’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has also proposed a range of other measures to stop harmful, coercive and, at times, violent practices which could also be considered conversion therapy. These proposals would create new criminal offences for a range of practices linked to conversion therapy.
The evidence is clear that conversion therapy in any form is a harmful practice; it is not based in evidence and does not have the best interests of service users at its centre.
As a regulator, our primary concern is public safety and any registrant providing conversion therapy would not be practicing in accordance with the HCPC Standards, which could give rise to a Fitness to Practise allegation.
Where a practice relating to gender identity does not meet the definition of conversion therapy, is based in evidence and is an effective and beneficial therapy for a patient or service user, this would not contravene HCPC’s Standards as described above. This could include therapies provided, for example, in the context of Gender Identity Development Services.
We know that the vast majority of our registrants are committed to their service users and dedicated to offering professional care. We also know that registrants need the space to have frank or challenging conversations relating to a service user’s sexuality or gender identity in the course of therapy. So long as this is conducted in a way that is ultimately in the service user’s interests, follows best practice advice and is professional, it is unlikely that this would raise any concerns for the HCPC.
The HCPC aims to champion equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in all that we do as a regulator. Our commitment was strengthened with the launch of our EDI Strategy in which we laid out how we would uphold and promote best practice in EDI over the next 5 years.
We work with over 100 individual registrants and key stakeholder organisations through our EDI Forum, which is a key mechanism of engagement and accountability for the HCPC as we work to deliver our EDI objectives. For more information on the HCPC’s approach to EDI can be found here.