Fight to Ban Conversion Therapy Continues

Following debate in Parliament triggered by a petition to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ bearing more than 250,000 signatures, the UK government is continuing to drag its heels on the issue.

On Monday 8th March 20 MPs spoke on the urgent need to take action on the practice, with the secretary of state for equalities, Kemi Badenoch, stating that the government is “committed to ending conversion therapy in the UK” and that they would explore “all measures”.

However, in her speech she did not give a timeline on when legislation on conversion therapy was likely to be advanced and stopped short of suggesting a complete ban on the practice, which LGBT+ campaigners believe is essential to effectively curbing conversion therapy in the UK.

During debate Labour MP for Wallasey and LCR Pride Foundation Patron, Dame Angela Eagle, said: “The extent of the prevalence of conversion therapy in the UK is shocking […] There is very strong evidence of the harm that conversion therapy inflicts: more than half of those who have gone through it report mental health issues, including breakdown, eating disorders, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. Evidence also shows that it is being inflicted mainly, but not only, on vulnerable LGBT+ teenagers. 

“That is horrific, but it is not surprising. Being told by faith leaders or your family that you are sinful, evil, and disordered for being yourself creates self-loathing and trauma that only the strongest can survive. Being told to pray harder to change and to question your innermost feelings and thoughts, and being taught to hate yourself—none of that should be legal.

Conversion therapy certainly causes untold damage and trauma for those who encounter it. Many survivors need specialist help because of the damage that that unethical and degrading process has caused. The Government must end the delay and bring the ban forward now.”

In the days following the debate, two members of the government’s LGBT advisory panel, Jayne Ozanne and James Morton quit after accusing ministers of not being serious about reform. Top LGBT+ figures also sent a scathing letter to Badenoch, for her “extremely troubling” speech on banning conversion therapy, with signatories including Mermaids, Peter Tatchell and representatives from the LGBT Foundation and Stonewall.

LCR Pride Foundation CEO, Andi Herring, said: “Despite the Prime Minister himself describing conversion therapy as an ‘abhorrent’ practice, the government has continued to drag its heels in taking action to ban the practice. 

“The secretary of state for equalities claims to have ‘consulted widely’ on the issue, yet it appears that she is not engaging with the affected communities and the organisations that represent them. We urge members of the LGBT+ community and its allies to write to their MP to demand swift and decisive action to ban conversion therapy.”

To continue the fight to ban conversion therapy, you can write to your MP here:

Image Credit: March with Pride 2019, David Wesley Yates


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