Equalities Minister Baroness Williams has re-iterated the government’s commitment to ending gay conversion therapy.
Speaking to the Government Equalities Office LGBT Leadership Summit on Wednesday (5 February), she said: “I am committed to ensuring that LGBT people feel safe and valued within society, afforded the same protections and respect that others take for granted.
“That is why we must work with communities across the UK and globally to end this so-called conversion therapy. I remain shocked that this is practised at all in the modern world.
“LGBT people are not broken, they are not ill, and they don’t need to be fixed and they don’t need to be cured.”
Baroness Williams added: “The techniques employed by people who promote these practices are frightening and have tragic consequences in many cases. That is why the government is committed to ending [it] for good.”
She did not give a date by which any required laws would be introduced and in an interview with Attitude editor-in-chief Cliff Joannou last August, the minister said outlawing it may not be the answer.
“It's far more complex than we first thought. It comes from different sources. It can be cultural, it can be faith-based, it can be health-based. Banning it means it still exists, ending it means it does not exist any more,” she explained.
The Conservative peer admitted that while we live in a society where discrimination based on sexuality and gender is illegal and intolerable, there is still much to be done, particularly when it comes to health, education and safety.
“The Department of Health and Social Care is continuing to work with NHS England, Public Health England and local authorities to plan routine commissioning of PrEP from April [and] this type of action plays no small part in continuing to drive down the rate of new HIV transmissions in England which has fallen by 73 per cent for gay and bisexual men since 2014.
“The government has not only met [its] commitment for the roll out of the PrEP trial but has gone further, offering 26,000 places,” she said.
In addition, new training modules have empowered health-care professionals to deliver better care for their LGBTQ patients – covering issues from suicide prevention to adequate care for older queer people - she told the Leadership Summit which brings together ministers, civil servants and members of the LGBTQ sector to discuss the work the government is doing to improve queer lives, discuss its action plan and offer guidance on future policy.
The conference is designed to help improve the financial sustainability and operational effectiveness of the LGBTQ charitable sector, which currently is 41 per cent dependent on central government funding.
Turning to the government’s LGBT Action Plan and the LGBT Futures Fund, which offered small grants to relevant organisations, Baroness Williams said that support had been provided to 66 projects.
“Disabled people have been able to fully participate at BiPride with the addition of wheelchair charge points and sign language interpreters [and] that same funding has been used to address LGBT mental health and social isolation through inclusive and diverse events around Manchester,” she said, adding that help had also been given to a four-day LGBTQ literary festival in Brighton.
But, she added, the scheme offered more than just funding, with training programmes and mentoring.
“The government remain committed to supporting you in realising a society where safety, opportunity and respect are no longer privileges to be fought for, but a reality for all,” she concluded.