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  • Michele Kavanagh

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Psychologists call for urgent publication of Sexual Orientation Strategy at Annual Conference


The British Psychological Society in Northern Ireland has said that a strategy on sexual orientation in Northern Ireland must be published as a matter of urgency.

The Society in Northern Ireland responded to the OFMDFM consultation on proposals for a Sexual Orientation Strategy for Northern Ireland and are now calling for the publication of a robust strategy that will promote equality, diversity and tolerance.

The Society called on policy makers to ensure that they create an environment that promotes diversity and makes citizens feel valued and respected.

The Society noted the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) Guidelines for Good Practice with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Clients, and Society and welcomed the referendum on equal marriage which is taking place in the Republic of Ireland as a positive step in encouraging honest and open discussions on equality issues.    


Keynote speaker Dr D’Alton, President of the Psychology Society of Ireland said;

“We’ve had a long history in this country of treating people from minority groups very badly; we have a long history of treating people who didn’t comply with dominant social norms very badly or, at the very least, with cold tolerance.

“Psychology, I am very sorry to say, has often been silent on these abuses or in some cases complicit. The PSI Guidelines are a significant step forward in ensuring that we as a profession use our voice to advocate for members of the LGB community. Guidelines set the tone and influence the atmosphere in which we work with vulnerable minorities.

“This week is an important one in the Republic as we open the debate on equal marriage to our citizens. This is a conversation that must be heard in an open and democratic way.

“I am confident that as a profession we continuously work towards promoting an inclusive and equal society and prevent the repeat of injustices inflicted on minority groups as has happened in the past.”


Evidence gathered by the Pink Therapy highlights how 1 in 6 therapists within the UK had been asked to enter into a therapy contract surrounding reducing same sex attraction. Most professional bodies setting standards for good practice endorsed the Memorandum of Understanding which deems such interventions at least ineffective and at best harmful.  The British Psychological Society in Northern Ireland supports affirmatory practice which promotes individuality and makes people feel valued.


Dr Michele Kavanagh called for greater awareness of the processes involved in internalised stigma and oppression within society:

“The Society in Northern Ireland values diversity and whilst this can give rise to the challenge of making various identities appear incompatible, we must use our influence, informed by research evidence, to promote tolerance and inclusion rather than reinforce stigmatising attitudes surrounding LGB community in Northern Ireland.”


Dr Keith Kerrigan, Clinical Psychologist said:

“The Society supports affirmatory practice and calls for its members to have a clear understanding assumptions and hidden influences of power that can impact upon the delivery of effective, and safe, therapy.

“We would urge the publication of a Sexual Orientation Strategy before this current Assembly mandate has ended. Our policy makers must send a clear message to people from the LGB community that they are valued and respected in Northern Ireland society.”


Ends -



Notes to Editors:

  1. The seminar takes place as part of the Northern Ireland Psychological Society’s Annual Conference on Thursday 21 May 2015 at 4pm in the Armagh City Hotel.


  1. More information on the event can be found at:  www.response.questback.com/britishpsychologicalsociety/seminarseries2015/


Period04 Aug 2015

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleU Turn for Trevor Lunn as he backs Equally Marriage
    PersonsMichele Kavanagh