Thank you to all of those who have contacted me about conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is an abhorrent practice, with the British Medical Association describing it as an unethical and damaging practice that preys on victims of homophobia, transphobia, discrimination and bullying. I completely agree that we must introduce a full, outright ban on conversion therapy as soon as possible, while protecting legitimate talking therapies.
The Government first committed to banning the practice of conversion therapy over four years ago. In March last year, the then Equalities Minister told MPs that plans to ban it in all its forms were being taken forward “on an urgent basis”. However, just one day later, it was reported that the plans had been dropped altogether, quickly followed by a further announcement that a ban would be proceeding, but without including transgender conversion therapy.
At no point before this had the Government suggested it was treating transgender conversion therapy practices differently from those targeting sexual orientation, and I do not believe there was any rationale for the exclusion. The Government then shifted its position again and in January this year it confirmed that a Bill to ban conversion practices in England and Wales would be brought forward for pre-legislative scrutiny in this session of Parliament. It stated it would “protect everybody, including those targeted on the basis of their sexuality or being transgender”. When questioned, the Government maintains that this timetable remains in place.
I welcome the commitment to a full ban, but I believe an explanation is needed as to why it is taking so long to keep the promise that was made to the victims of this insidious practice. I am also concerned that the Government appears determined to include loopholes that will allow adults to ‘consent’ to this abuse on religious grounds in its proposals.
It is essential that we put dignity and respect at the heart of what we do. As well as a ban on all forms of conversion therapy, we must appoint an envoy to promote LGBT+ rights globally, as well as modernise the Gender Recognition Act and protect the Equality Act.
Thank you once again to all of those who have contacted me about this important issue.