Conversion therapy has come under fierce scrutiny in recent years. The practice, which tries to suppress someone’s sexual orientation or stop them identifying as a different gender, can include talking therapies and prayer along with more extreme methods such as exorcism, physical violence and food deprivation.
It has been condemned by global medical and human rights bodies, and is already banned in countries including Canada, New Zealand, France, Malta, Brazil, India, Uruguay, Germany, and some Australian states.
In the UK, a YouGov study showed that more than 60% of the public support a full ban on conversion therapy. Over 25 health and mental health organisations, including NHS England, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on its potentially harmful effects, and in 2017 the Church of England General Synod voted to reject coercive conversion therapies.
The UK government has been slower to act, however. In 2018, it first announced that it would introduce a ban on the practice. Since then, it has said that transgender conversion therapy would not be included in the ban and last year announced it was entirely scrapping its plans, before quickly backtracking.
A new short film depicting the abusive nature of the practice, from a collective of 21 LGBTQA+ charities coordinated by Stonewall, comes just days after the government finally put out a statement indicating they will now legislate for an inclusive ban to protect all LGBTQA+ people.
Led by The&Partnership, who worked on the project pro bono, the powerful film seeks to raise awareness of the harm that continues to be inflicted on people while conversion therapy remains legal. Based on first-hand survivor testimony, it illustrates the horrors of a young trans person being subjected to abuse, coercion, and psychological harm in the name of the so-called ‘cure’.
The story is accompanied by Douglas Dare’s version of It’s a Sin by the Pet Shop Boys – the song that also soundtracked Russell T Davies’ award-winning Channel 4 series of the same name. The pop duo gave their permission for the track to be used for free in order to support the film.
ECD: Toby Allen
Creatives: Mika Alcock, Dan Dehlavi
Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Zhang + Knight
DOP: David Foulkes
Production Designer: Fran Massariol
Art Director: Katherine Black
Music Supervision: Siren