Daily Dispatches
Royal College of Psychiatrists in London
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Royal College of Psychiatrists in London

Born gay? Not necessarily, U.K. psychiatrists say


The main professional psychiatry organization in the U.K. says same-sex attraction is not always cemented at birth and can change.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists, a London-based organization that represents over 15,000 psychiatrists, recently released a position statement reversing previous assertions that sexual orientation is determined only by biology, before birth.

The statement said the College, “considers that sexual orientation is determined by a combination of biological and postnatal environmental factors.” The three studies cited as evidence for this conclusion were published at least eight years ago, from 2000, 2005, and 2006. The statement goes on to assert sexual orientation may change: “It is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary at some extent in a person’s life.”

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“This is a remarkable development,” said Mike Davidson, director of Core Issues Trust, a British Christian organization that advocates counseling and therapy for people seeking to reverse their same-sex attractions. “The assumption that people are ‘born gay’ has become deeply rooted in our society and has driven huge political, social, and cultural change. As this last statement reveals, that assumption is false. … Ideologically driven bias in this debate is damaging people’s lives and freedoms.”

The College reaffirmed its opposition to conversion therapy, saying that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have the right to protection from therapies that try to change someone’s sexual orientation. “There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed … the College remains in favor of legislative efforts to ban such conversion therapies,” a spokeswoman told Britain’s Gay Star News.

Core Issues Trust is involved in a public battle over a 2012 advertising campaign. The group’s ad was approved by London’s transport authority and set to appear on the sides of London’s double-decker buses when Mayor Boris Johnson reportedly banned it. The ad was designed to counter a campaign on London’s buses by Stonewall Ltd., a gay advocacy group, that read, “Some people are gay. Get over it!” Core Issues Trust’s ad would have read, “Not Gay! Ex-gay, post-gay, and proud. Get over it!” A Court of Appeals ruling in January 2014 asked for further investigation into Johnson’s actions.

The percent of Americans who think people become gay because of their upbringing or environment rose last year, according to a study released by Gallup last week. The belief that people are born gay dropped 5 percent last year, from 47 to 42 percent, while the belief that people are gay because of upbringing and environment rose 4 percent last year, from 33 to 37 percent.

Kiley Crossland
Kiley Crossland

Kiley is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute's mid-career course. She and her husband live in Denver, Colo.


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