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A timeline of the UK Government's ban on 'conversion' therapy

The UK Government initially promised a ban back in 2018.

2022-03-31

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki and BBC

**UPDATE**

Late on 31 March, it was announced that the government was recommitting to its plans to ban 'conversion' therapy following the backlash over its previous decision, but that it would exclude trans people from such a ban.

Following the leak that the UK Government is dropping plans to ban 'conversion' therapy here in the UK, we thought we'd map out a timeline of the ban from when it was first proposed in 2018 to its current situation.

2018 

The story of the ban begins in 2018, when the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, promised to introduce a ban on the debunked and discredited practice, which seeks to change a person's sexuality or gender identity. 

The announcement formed part of the government's LGBT plan.

Theresa May (Photo: Wiki)

2020 

The campaign group, Ban Conversion Therapy is formed by a coalition of LGBTQ groups and calls on the UK Government to introduce a full legislative ban. Other campaigns are also running such as The Peter Tatchell Foundation’s ‘Stop Dithering’ petition.

Boris Johnson, now the Prime Minister, echoes his predecessor's words regarding a ban on what he calls an "abhorrent" practice. 

Carrie Symonds and Boris Johnson (Photo: Wiki)

February 2021

A number of MPs and LGBTQ groups urge the government to move forward with plans to ban 'conversion' therapy.

March 2021

Members of the government's LGBT Advisory Panel, including Jayne Ozanne, resign over ministers' inaction on the issue. Ozanne tells ITV at the time: "I’ve been increasingly concerned about what is seen to be a hostile environment for LGBT people among this administration."

Equalities Minister, Liz Truss, later claims that plans are being brought forward. The Advisory panel disbands altogether in April 2021.

Liz Truss - second from the left (Photo: Wiki)

May 2021 

In May, the government introduces a ban into the Queen's Speech, where legislative plans are set out. Speaking from Parliament, the Queen said: "Measures will be brought forward to address racial and ethnic disparities and ban conversion therapy."

The government sets up a consultation to look into the practice and also announces the first global 'Safe to Be Me' conference aimed at tackling inequality around the world.

The Queen delivers the 2021 Queen's Speech (Photo: BBC)

October 2021

Nick Herbert, the UK Government's LGBT Special Envoy, says the government "remains committed" to banning 'conversion' therapy. A six-week consultation begins which is due to end in December with a response due in January 2022. 

It's hoped a draft Bill will appear in Spring 2022.

A 36-page document on the consultation indicates plans for an outright ban on all forms of conversion therapy for under 18s. It then states that "consent requirements for adults seeking out talking therapy will be robust and stringent."

LGBTQ campaigns express concern over the proposals and that loopholes will leave thousands at risk. 

Nick Herbert (Photo: Wiki)

December 2021

Both Canada and France become the latest countries to introduce 'conversion' therapy bans leading to calls from The Campaign to Ban Conversion Therapy for the UK government to confirm its plans and the timeline for when it hopes to enact the legislation.

In response, the government says it has been "consistently clear" that it will publish legislation in Spring 2022.

The consultation is also extended till February 2022.

January 2022

The UK equalities watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, suggests pausing the ban on 'conversion' therapy. It argues that the consultation lacks clarity on what 'conversion' therapy is and that it means people won't be able to provide "informed responses". 

Stonewall issues a statement saying it is "deeply concerned" about the EHRC's comments.

February 2022

The government's consultation ends.

March 2022

On 31 March, Transgender Day of Visibility, ITV reports that the UK Government is dropping plans of a ban altogether, with orders coming from the top.

Boris Johnson (Photo: Wiki)

A document reads: "The PM has agreed we should not move forward with legislation to ban LGBT conversion therapy." The document goes on to say that the decision can be put down to "unprecedented circumstances" such as "cost of living" and "the crisis in Ukraine".

The news comes a day after Equalities Minister Mike Freer, who is gay, told Parliament that the government remained "wholly committed" to banning gay 'conversion' therapy.