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Charity Commission to review 'gay conversion' allegations following ITV News investigation

  • Video report by ITV News political correspondent Paul Brand

The Charity Commission is urgently looking into two charitable organisations, exposed by ITV News this week, which claim people can change their sexuality.

A spokesperson said “We are aware of serious concerns regarding Journey UK and World Mission Agency – Winners Chapel International. The public rightly expect charities to be places in which people can feel safe and free from harm, so reports of this nature are of serious concern to the Commission. We are currently assessing information as a matter of urgency and will be engaging with trustees in order to determine our next steps.”

We've also shared our footage with the Minister for Equalities, Penny Mordaunt, who told us our investigation would help shape a ban into conversion therapy.

Speaking last week, she said "One of the benefits of the footage you've shown is it will raise awareness of what poor practice looks like.

"I know from my own friends and family that people want someone to talk to about these kinds of issues around their sexuality and gender identity and I think it's really shocking that people are exploiting that need. It needs to be stopped and stamped out."

Minister for Equalities Penny Mordaunt wants a ban on so-called 'conversion therapy'. Credit: ITV News

But not according to those who believe it's possible to change someone's sexuality. Last month, we gained access to a conference organised by a group called the IFTCC, which is campaigning against a ban on changing someone's sexuality.

Over the course of three hours, various speakers made the case in favour of the practice.

The leader, Mike Davidson, claims he is 'ex-gay', and told us banning so-called conversion therapy would infringe on personal freedoms.

He said, "People should have rights and freedoms to decide their own destiny. I don't think it's appropriate that one group of people tells another group of people how to live."

At the IFTCC conference, there were also several references comparing homosexuality to paedophilia Credit: ITV News

But at the conference there were also several references comparing homosexuality to paedophilia.

And although the organisers say that does not reflect their view, some speaking on behalf of the IFTCC held controversial views about gay people.

One former psychiatrist told us being straight was 'preferable' to being gay, because 'there's so much more potential' for a person.

A former GP claimed that gay people were more likely to be lonely in old age, and to have health problems, such as HIV, drug addiction and rectal cancer.

All the professional bodies in the UK have stated that conversion therapy is unethical and potentially harmful.

The government says it wants to introduce a ban as soon as possible.

In response to our filming, Winners' Chapel said they would conduct an internal investigation into our allegations. But they deny that they engage in any form of conversion therapy.

In response to our investigation, Journey UK said conversion therapy is "very difficult to define".

They said they would review its materials and have since taken Falling Forward off their website, which they say isn’t written by anyone at Journey UK.