Queen’s ‘regret’ for conversion therapy is not enough; university must make amends

The Rainbow Project, the organisation supporting the health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people and their families in Northern Ireland, has reacted with anger and disgust at the revelation that so-called conversion therapies were practiced on students at Queen’s University, Belfast.

QUB’s role in practicing conversion therapies was revealed by BBC NI and included electric shock therapy coupled with pictures of naked men, designed to force an association within the victim’s mind between their attraction and physical pain.

A spokesperson for the university has expressed ‘regret’ for the use of these therapies.

Reacting to the story, Director of The Rainbow Project, John O’Doherty said: ‘All forms of conversion therapies are wrong, unethical and prey on some of the most vulnerable members of our community. That these barbaric and torturous practices were inflicted on students at QUB is reprehensible and for the university to simply express regret for what it has done is nowhere close to sufficient for making amends for what the university did to people for whom they had a duty of care.

There is still a lot that we need to understand about how and why conversion therapy was practiced at QUB and we would ask the university to answer the following questions:

  1. Who practiced so-called conversion therapies at QUB?
  2. Under what ethical framework did they practice these conversion therapies?
  3. How many people underwent conversion therapies at QUB?
  4. How were they referred to the Department of Mental Health?
  5. When did QUB stop providing conversion therapies?
  6. Why did QUB stop providing conversion therapies?
  7. What steps has QUB taken to contact the people on whom they practiced conversion therapies?
  8. What damages has QUB paid out to victims of conversion therapies?

We would also appeal to anyone who has been through conversion therapy at QUB, or elsewhere, to contact The Rainbow Project, where we have a range of support services available.


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