A new law to ban all forms of conversion therapy in England and Wales will include transgender people, the culture secretary has confirmed.
The re-revised ban will outlaw attempts to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity, confirming reports of the move over the weekend.
The fully-inclusive ban is expected to come into effect by October.
BREAKING: After years of delay Culture Sec finally announces a draft bill to ban all conversion therapy – both sexuality and gender based.
As I reported in recent days, the draft will be scrutinised by MPs within this session of parliament.
A way to go yet, but a step forwards. pic.twitter.com/vAycSOKk7N
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) January 17, 2023
The government had previously said that trans and non-binary people would be excluded from the conversion therapy ban, a move which prompted backlash and widespread criticism from LGBTQ+ groups.
It’s reported, however, that Downing Street was “surprised” by the volume of cross-party support for a full ban.
However, the welcome, but long-overdue (read more below), news comes just one day after it was revealed that the UK government would attempt to block gender recognition reform in Scotland.
Despite 6 years working to fine tune and accomplish the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform bill, the UK government, in a constitutional first, revealed it will block Scotland’s GRR under a Section 35 order.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the move a “full-frontal attack” on the Scottish Parliament and vowed to oppose it.
She said the Scottish government would “defend” the bill, warning if the veto succeeded it would be the “first of many”.
MSPs voted to pass the Gender Recognition Bill by 86 votes to 39 in December.
“What would your message be to anyone trans that’s watching now?”
SNP MP for Aberdeen South @StephenFlynnSNP on the UK government’s plans to block Scotland’s #GRR, which passed by a large majority & cross-party support
— Queer Insider 🏳️🌈 🏳️⚧️ (@qitweets) January 16, 2023
The aim of the bill is to simplify and speed up the existing process by which people can obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) to change their legally recognised gender. The bill also lowers the age that people can apply for a GRC from 18 to 16 and removes the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, with applicants only needing to have lived as their true gender for three months rather than two years – or six months if they are aged 16 or 17.
In essence, the reform simply made an existing process of obtaining a GR certificate – which had been widely acknowledged to be traumatic and fundamentally flawed – significantly more respectful and straightforward.
Scotland’s Bill aligns it with leading international practice endorsed by the United Nations and adopted by 30 countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and most of the United States of America.
Conversion Therapy Delays
In June of last year, as a result of a government petition raised by LGBTQ+ groups in the U.K. and signed by over 145,000 people, the House of Commons debated the conversion therapy ban.
MPs from across the political spectrum were seen speaking in defence of trans rights and calling for a ban that covers all LGBTQ+ people, and not just LGB individuals.
New Zealand, France and Canada are among the countries to have swiftly, and without disruption, enacted a ban on the practice of conversion therapy.
While, for the UK government, the process has not been quite so smooth – despite years of unfulfilled promises from former leaders like Theresa May, way back in 2018.
In March 2022, the government sparked a furious backlash after it was leaked that their long-promised ban on conversion therapy would not be going ahead.
Then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to pull a double U-turn on the decision following a huge public outcry, but the revised ban excluded trans people.
The government was then forced to cancel its international ‘Safe be Be Me’ conference in light of over 100 LGBT+ groups withdrawing their support.
Then, in October, it was revealed there had been plans for a Joint Committee of MPs and Lords to expedite a ban on the practice, but that equalities minister Kemi Badenoch had insisted on reviewing those plans, creating further delays on anything being actioned.
A government spokesperson in the equalities department said at the time: “The minister for women and equalities will consider the responses to the public consultation on conversion practices before responding in due course. We have taken steps to ensure that victims of conversion practices have access to the support they need through a new service which launched in September.”