Journalist and campaigner Patrick Strudwick condemned the role of religious groups in their promotion of “conversion therapy”, during a speech at the annual fundraising lunch of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) in Central London on Saturday, Nov. 12. He also criticized a Church of England newspaper article for equating gay and Humanist campaigners with Nazis.
Strudwick was presented with the GALHA Humanist Campaigns Award for his work campaigning against “conversion therapy”. GALHA, a member organization of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), has promoted Humanism and LGBT rights for more than 30 years, both in the UK and internationally.
The GALHA audience was shocked by Strudwick’s chilling account of the way in which therapists had tried to undermine his sexual identity by their insistence that homosexuality was an illness which they could cure and “pray for”. In the course of his undercover investigation it had become clear that vulnerable LGBT people were being undermined by therapy which had no credible theoretical base. Strudwick went on to describe his long struggle to get the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and British Medical Council to condemn “conversion therapy”.
Derek Lennard, GALHA Campaigns and Events Coordinator said that “Some GALHA members experienced aversion therapy and other repressive techniques in the 1950s and 1960s. We are fully committed to exposing ‘conversion therapies’ to the wider public, and to ensuring that bodies such as the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and the General Medical Council are made fully aware that these dreadful homophobic practices are unacceptable to our community”.
Strudwick also responded to the description of him and other LGBT campaigners as “members of the Gaystapo”. In a Church of England newspaper article , Alan Craig, leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance party and a former London councilor, used a series of Nazi metaphors describing “gay-rights stormtroopers” crushing people “under the pink jackboot” and warning that while “the gay Wehrmacht is on its long march through the institutions….it’s only 1938 and Nazi expansionist ambitions are far from sated.” Mr. Craig goes on to suggest he can play a Winston Churchill role in “forcefully confronting the vaulting ambitions of gay leaders and their atheist and humanist fellow-travellers.”
Strudwick told the GALHA meeting that members of religious organisations were stirring up hatred against gay people and often justifying this with religious and therapeutic rhetoric.