Beyond Critique – When Ideology Replaces Science

By Peter May, MRCGP


This paper formed part of a package handed to all delegates at last Thursday’s Conference ‘Setting Love in Order’ in London.  Geraint Thomas, Labour MP for Swansea, the proposer of the Private Members’ Bill to regulate the therapy profession and to ban gay-to-straight conversion therapy, is also in possession of a copy, together with a copy of the book  ‘Beyond Critique – The Misuse of Science by UK Professional Mental Health Bodies’.


In January 2013, a retired engineer published a remarkable paper. He examined in detail the 2007 submission by the Royal College of Psychiatrists to the Church of England Listening Exercise on Human Sexuality and their almost identical submission to the Pilling Commission in 2012. Rarely, when doctors read medical papers do they examine all the footnotes, but Dermot O’Callaghan did.


The origins of homosexuality


He noticed that the College had made a significant alteration to their original report. The first said, “It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice…”  The second version however, which is currently on the RCPsych website[i], says simply that it is “determined by genetic factors and/or the early uterine environment”.


Their conclusion, that “orientation is therefore not a choice”, has led to the widespread belief that LGB people are being ‘true to their nature’ in homosexual behaviour. While the first version implies that genetic and hormonal influences are working together in this, the second logically allows that orientation may be caused entirely by genes or entirely by hormones. Conversely, it may have nothing to do with genes or nothing to do with hormones. The College thereby admits that there is no compelling evidence to say it is genetic or hormonal. Where then is the evidence that orientation is biological in nature?


Strangely, the College does not mention twin studies, a major research field for two decades. An important study published in 2000[ii] showed that among male identical twins, where one was gay, there was an 89% chance that his co-twin was not. As they shared essentially similar genes and intrauterine environments, this strongly suggests the importance of later postnatal, non-biological causes, such as events or choices, in determining sexual orientation.
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