LONDON — The Royal College of Psychiatrists has issued a historic statement acknowledging for the first time the harm done to LGB people who were subjected to aversion therapy, the practice of using electric shocks or nausea-inducing drugs to try to “cure” people of their sexual orientation, Buzzfeed reports.
Campaigners and victims have heralded the intervention, from Britain’s main body for psychiatrists, as a “milestone” moment in the history of the LGBT rights movement.
The statement, written by the president of the college, Professor Wendy Burn, was issued in response to an extensive interview BuzzFeed News conducted last month with Jeremy Gavins, who was given multiple hours of electric shocks every week for six months in the early 1970s. He told how the so-called therapy destroyed his education, career, mental health and ability to form romantic relationships. He was one of many.
Patients were shown homoerotic pictures while being given numerous electric shocks or drugs that made them repeatedly vomit or defecate, often in multiple sessions over many months, in an attempt to encourage an association between pain and sexual feelings towards the same sex, Buzzfeed reports.
British psychiatrists determined in 1974 that homosexuality was no longer considered a mental disorder.