I escaped LGBT conversion therapy, but not everyone is so lucky – ban it now to stop more damage to lives

Whenever I mention conversion therapy, most people are surprised that such things still happen in the UK. There is a sense of bafflement about how and why someone could get into that situation. Although it is shocking, LGBT conversion therapy can and does still happen today. Two per cent of LGBT+ people have been through conversion therapy, and a further 5 per cent have been offered it. There is no law to stop it, and it can take many forms, from a prayer to rites of exorcism. LGBT+ people don’t need to change who we are; these kinds of “therapies” do not work and are never “successful” – but they can, and do, cause lifelong harm to those who undergo them. It’s common for survivors of conversion therapy to experience mental health problems, including suicide attempts. How do I know that conversion therapy is still happening today? Because of what happened to me six years ago, as a 24-year-old from County Londonderry. Back then, I was working as a missionary, with 400 other mostly young folk, on a ship sailing the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. Outwardly, I was a cheerful guy, managing huge worship events, sometimes leading the singing on stage. Inwardly, I was wrestling with a growing awareness of a sexuality which, I had been told for as long as I could remember, would lead to my eternal damnation.