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Government urged to 'stop dragging its feet' on gay 'conversion' therapy ban

A coalition of LGBTQ groups is calling for action almost 1000 since the government first committed to banning the abusive practice.

2021-03-04

The government has been urged to "stop dragging its feet" on banning gay 'conversion' therapy in the UK.

A coalition of LGBTQ groups, mental health practitioners and faith communities is putting pressure on the government to take meaningful action almost 1000 days after it first committed to ending the abusive practice back in 2018.

The calls comes just weeks after actor Stephen Fry publicly backed a petition urging the government to 'stop dithering' on the issue.

'Conversion' therapy is defined as a practice which attempts to erase, repress, cure or change someone’s sexual orientation - or lack of - and/or gender identity.

"The UK Government must stop dragging its feet and make good on its promise to bring in a full legal ban"

These can include psychiatric, psychological, religious, and cultural interventions - all of which can be extremely harmful and cause life-long mental health challenges.

Figures from the National LGBT Survey found that 7% of LGBTQ people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy, with transgender respondents almost twice as likely to have been offered or undergone 'conversion' therapy (13 %).

Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive for Stonewall said: "Being LGBTQIA+ is beautiful, and there is no place in our society for any so-called ‘interventions’ which tell us otherwise.

"The UK Government must stop dragging its feet and make good on its promise to bring in a full legal ban, and put a stop to conversion therapy in the UK for good."

It was announced on Thursday morning (4 March) that MPs will debate an e-petition with more than 256,000 signatures calling for a ban on gay 'conversion' therapy next Monday (8 March) and that the government will send a minister to respond.

"It’s time for the Government to take action and ensure a comprehensive ban that fully protects all."

In response to the petition, the government said: “The Government is committed to ensuring all citizens feel safe and protected from harm. We will work to deepen our understanding and consider all options for ending the practice of conversion therapy.”

Jayne Ozanne, Director of the Ozanne Foundation and member of the Government’s LGBT Advisory Panel said: "It’s been nearly one thousand days since the UK Government committed to end conversion therapy, but lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in the UK today are still being subjected to this abusive practice often, sadly, in religious settings.

"It’s time for the Government to take action and ensure a comprehensive ban that fully protects all."

The coalition of groups calling for movement on a gay 'conversion' therapy ban is also calling for specialist support for victims and survivors of conversion therapy. 

Leni Morris, CEO of Galop (she/her) said: “In pledging to ban so-called conversion practices, the Government has recognised that there are LGBTQIA+ people in the UK today suffering abuse and violence as a result of others trying to change or suppress who they are. We support current victims of these kinds of abuse in our services and see the damage caused by these practices.

"The Government must not only recognise these victims, but fund specialist support services to help those in danger in the UK right now to find safety."

Laws regulating gay 'conversion' therapy vary widely around the world, with the practise proving difficult to regulate: many countries have banned the practice being employed on children or by medical professionals, but stamping out voluntary adult 'conversion' therapy conducted by non-regulated organisations such as religious groups has proved harder to do.

Among the jurisdictions with notable bans on gay 'conversion' therapy: 20 US states ban the practice for minors; Brazil, which in 1999 became the first country in the world to introduce a nationwide ban; and Germany, which last year became the first European country to introduce legislation banning the practice for both minors and for adults subjected to "force, fraud or pressure."