UK government set to announce ban on conversion therapy for all LGBTQ+ people

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Conversion therapy uk keep trans in the ban
Image Vuk Valcic / Alamy Stock Photo

LGB with the T.

 

The U.K. government is reportedly readying itself to announce a new law banning conversion therapy – applicable to all LGBTQ+ people.

ITV News reports that a full ban will be introduced within the next week, with the legislation outlawing any attempts to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity.


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 has “been surprised” by the volume of cross-party support for a full ban.

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.

Conversion therapy uk keep trans in the ban
Image Vuk Valcic / Alamy Stock Photo

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.”

 

Now, per ITV News, the government will first announce the introduction of a bill – the next stage in delivering its manifesto pledge – but the legislation won’t be published in full until later, at which stage MPs will be able to scrutinise the exact wording and structure.

 

No10 is said to be overseeing the overall formation of the ban, rather than the Equalities Minister, Kemi Badenoch, who has a somewhat questionable history when it comes to trans rights. 

Badenoch sparked controversy for a 2018 audio recording – obtained in 2021 by Vice – in which the Minister for Equalities could reportedly be heard making some worrying anti-trans comments.

 

In December 2022, Badenoch has expressed her opposition to Scotland’s newly passed Gender Recognition Reform Bill, saying on Twitter that she was “disappointed” to see amendments to the bill voted down, and suggesting that MSPs needed “more time” to consider it.

The bill, which will allow trans people in Scotland to access Gender Recognition Certificates (GRC) without the need for medical intervention, passed through the Scottish Parliament by a margin of 86 to 39 in December. 

 

Whether the UK Government will try to halt Scotland’s GRR is still in the balance, despite numerous groups warning that doing so would be disastrous and unethical. 

The Times reported over the weekend that Rishi Sunak plans to block the legislation, claiming it would have an “adverse effect” on UK-wide equality legislation, allowing for a Section 35 order.

We’re expected to know more on the matter within the next week. 

 

The practice of conversion therapy can take various forms but often refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity, using psychological, physical, or spiritual interventions. It is based on the assumption that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be ‘cured’.

These therapies are widely considered ineffective, unethical and harmful for anyone who undergoes the process.