Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about conversion therapy. I received well over 150 campaign emails on this, so it is clearly something many of you feel strongly about (quite rightly so).
My Labour colleagues and I are committed to ensuring that LGBT+ people can live in safety and dignity, and I completely agree with you that LGBT+ conversion therapies must be banned. Conversion therapies are exploitative and damaging. Being LGBT+ is a fundamental part of an individual’s identity, and it should never be treated as a sickness. Indeed, all major UK therapy professional bodies and the NHS oppose conversion therapy.
I am very worried about the harm caused to LGBT+ people by these therapies. It is deeply concerning that the Ozanne Foundation’s 2018 Faith & Sexuality Survey found that over 58% of people who had experienced attempts to change their sexual orientation had suffered from mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Worryingly, two-thirds of those who had experienced mental health issues had experienced suicidal thoughts, and nearly a third had attempted suicide.
Conversion therapies must urgently be banned. As I am sure you know, in July 2018, the UK Government committed to bringing forward proposals to end conversion therapy in the UK. I am deeply disappointed that, nearly three years later, we are still waiting.
LGBT+ people are experiencing harms from conversion therapies every day. The longer we wait for action, the longer they are denied legal redress. I firmly believe we need to introduce legislation, such as protection orders for people who are vulnerable to pressure to suppress, deny or forcibly change their sexuality or gender identity. Crucially, introducing legislation to ban conversion therapy would allow statutory services to work together to support people in need.
In March 2021, the UK Government said it will shortly be bringing forward plans for a ban. I assure you I will monitor developments on this important issue closely.
More widely, I welcome the fact that Instagram and Facebook have blocked the promotion of conversion therapy on their sites, and I hope other social media companies will follow suit.