The Queen’s Speech is where Her Majesty details what will be on the political agenda for the coming year and today she announced that a ban on conversion therapy in England and Wales will finally be put in motion.
Back in 2018, then Prime Minister Teresa May vowed to end the practise as part of the government’s LGBT equality plan but it is still yet to happen with Boris Johnson saying last summer that the ban is to be brought forward.
However, there is a small caveat in that there will be a ‘short consultation’ asking the public and various governing bodies (including religious) how they think is best to proceed.
Johnson wrote to the Evangelical Alliance in April (which represents 3,500 churches) telling them that adults will still be able to ‘receive appropriate pastoral support (including prayer)… in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity’.
For some the ban doesn’t go far enough with Stonewall saying it needs to be ‘full and comprehensive’ and former government equality adviser Jayne Ozanne saying that religion practises had to be included in the ban: ‘They have consulted long enough, now it is time to act and bring forward legislation that protects everyone from this inhumane and degrading abuse.’
A UK government source said ‘This will do exactly what we promised to do – banning LGBT conversion therapy in legislation and stamping out the last vestiges of this heinous practice.’
The Evangelical Alliance’s UK director, Peter Lynas said of the proposed short consultation to follow: ‘We want to avoid the situation where a person can be accused of conversion therapy for praying with someone who freely chooses and asks for prayer.’
It’s a very nuanced area but surely ‘praying’ to be something other than you are, whether you want to or not, is a form of conversion therapy? Whatever way you look at it, the ban goes a long way to criminalising the majority of the disgusting practises that fall under the conversion therapy umbrella including ‘corrective’ rape.
There is clearly work still to be done (and once again it is religion that stands in the way) but nevertheless the fact the ban is in the Queen’s Speech means the majority of the grunt work is done. Now it’s just a case of hashing out the details which we will bring to you as soon as we get them.