4th May 2020
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Ms Anthea Ong
Question No. 3556
To ask the Minister for Health with regard to the practice of changing one’s sexual orientation through psychological and spiritual means, also known as “conversion therapy”, whether the Ministry will consider (i) stating an official position against conversion therapy, as it is not approved by expert bodies in psychology including the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the British Psychological Society (BPS) (ii) disseminating guidelines against conversion therapy to mental healthcare professionals (iii) establishing complaint mechanisms for clients who have experienced conversion therapy and (iv) pursuing disciplinary action for mental healthcare professionals who practise or refer patients to conversion therapy.
1. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision (ICD-10), which is the current standardised medical classification list by the World Health Organisation (WHO), states that sexual orientation alone is not to be regarded as a clinical disorder that needs to be cured. Homosexuality has not been considered a psychiatric diagnosis since 1973 (by the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and 1977 (by the WHO International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems).
2 MOH expects doctors and other healthcare professionals to practice according to evidence-based best practice and clinical ethics, and to consider and respect patients’ preferences and circumstances (including sexual orientation) when providing care. For individuals who seek care with a desire to change one’s sexual orientation through clinical means, healthcare professionals should care for and support these individuals with empathy and sensitivity.
3 Mechanisms for the public to feedback on care provided already exist at public healthcare institutions and members of the public can submit a formal complaint to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) if a doctor is acting unethically or providing inappropriate treatment.
4 The SMC takes complaints against doctors seriously and will investigate and impose disciplinary action if the doctor was found guilty of misconduct.