Poll reveals public opposition to ban on talking therapy for sexuality or gender identity issues

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Most of the British public believe that individuals struggling with sexuality, sexual issues or gender identity should be free to seek professional help in the form of talking therapy, a new poll has found. 

According to research by Whitestone Insight, over 70% of the UK public agree that people should be free to talk to a therapist or counsellor about these issues.

Even among younger adults aged 18 to 24, there was broad support at over 60%. 

The poll has been published as the government prepares to publish draft legislation on its promised 'conversion therapy' ban.

Among the 2,000 UK adults surveyed for the Whitestone poll, only one in 10 were opposed to people being able to access talking therapy for struggles around their gender identity or sexual identity. 

Around three quarters (74%) agreed that suitably qualified psychotherapists should be free to work with clients who want to address their sexual identity. 

Support for doctors, teachers and youth workers being free to engage in conversations with young people about issues of sexual identity, where these had been sought by young people, was lower (62%).

Only one in five (22%) said they agreed with bringing criminal prosecutions against professional counsellors for engaging in talking therapy with someone struggling with sex, their sexuality or gender identity.

Commenting on the findings, Christian Concern chief executive, Andrea Williams, said: "The data reveals what we have believed all along, that the 'conversion therapy' ban is LGBT minority activist led legislation which the majority of the country don't want, don't agree with and feel uneasy about.

"It is a basic human right that people must be free to talk about sex and gender issues they are facing and to have therapy if they want it." 

Christian Concern has expressed concern that pastors, parents and counsellors risk being criminalised for consensual conversations and ordinary Christian practices like prayer if the government goes ahead with its proposed ban.

Christian Concern is preparing to bring a legal case against the government over its proposed legislation.

Ms Williams warned that legislation "will end up criminalising consensual conversations with those who genuinely want help and support".

"There is no justification for a ban and it's not even a popular policy when people understand what it is being targeted," she continued.

"A ban will mean that the counselling room is no longer a safe space for clinicians. If they do not affirm what their clients want and feel they risk being taken before disciplinary panels, losing their careers, or worse.

"Therapists are already too afraid to provide the help that clients want and are asking for. This has ruined the practice of clinical psychology, which is entirely dependent on trust and privacy."