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Queen's Speech: Government commits to ban on gay 'conversion' therapy

"Alongside this legislation, we will make new funding available to ensure that victims have better access to the support they need," says Liz Truss.

2021-05-11

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Wiki

The UK government confirmed plans to ban so-called LGBTQ conversion therapy in today's Queen's Speech (11 May).

The widely debunked practice, which seeks to change or supress a person’s gender or sexuality, has already been banned for minors in 20 US states.

Queen Elizabeth II touched on the UK government's plans during today's State Opening of Parliament, while also describing various upcoming laws on matters such as free speech and policing.

"Address racial and ethnic disparities and ban conversion therapy"

Speaking from Parliament, the Queen said: "Measures will be brought forward to address racial and ethnic disparities and ban conversion therapy."

In a statement, Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss said: "As a global leader on LGBT rights, this government has always been committed to stamping out the practice of 'conversion' therapy.

“We want to make sure that people in this country are protected, and these proposals mean nobody will be subjected to coercive and abhorrent conversion therapy.

"Alongside this legislation, we will make new funding available to ensure that victims have better access to the support they need.”

Despite the promise, it has been reported that a "short" public consultation will be opened before the ban comes into effect.

According to BBC sources, the consultation will examine how to ensure professionals like therapists can help people fully explore their gender identity, while also allowing "legitimate forms of pastoral support."

The pledge follows former PM Theresa May, in 2018, promising to ban 'conversion' therapy. In March 2021, Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss promised to bring the ban forward after three members of the government's LGBT Advisory panel quit over inaction on the issue.

Speaking to ITV News, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said in March: "I'm sorry these advisors have gone but be in no doubt, we will deal with this issue. It is technically complex to deal with but we are determined to take further steps to stamp it out."

"Inherently abusive"

In an op-ed for Attitude published yesterday, Alicia Kearns MP, who has led calls from within the government to end 'conversion' therapy, said the practise is "quackery, and it is fraudulent, and it is inherently abusive."

The MP for Melton and Rutland continued: "This ban is all about punishing practices that leave real and enduring psychological and physical scars, and holding accountable those willing to perpetrate (and often profit from) quackery and misery. These protections, and the ability to get justice, is long overdue."

In a statement today, Kearns said: “Since my election I’ve worked tirelessly to secure this ban, which is a tribute to the survivors of conversion therapy, to those whose lives were lost too soon because of this abhorrent abuse, and to all those hurting or made ashamed for being who they are.

“This ban will see our Government ensure that LGBTQ+ people have the liberty to live their lives free from identity-based violence and abuse.”

Professor Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury added: “Whatever our convictions, it is right that we should all be held to the highest standards of personal care and respect, and I welcome this announcement as an opportunity for co-operation and learning how to secure these standards and protect the vulnerable."

Reacting to the news, Elliot Colburn MP Conservative Member of Parliament for Carshalton and Wallington, told Attitude: "I am delighted the Government has committed to making the abhorrent and degrading practice of so-called conversion therapy a criminal offense, and to create a support fund by this summer for LGBT people impacted by conversion therapy. These are hugely welcome steps forward for the LGBT+ community. I called for a clear timeline for introducing a ban when I led a petitions debate on this issue in March, and I urge the Government to bring forward this legislation as soon as possible following the public consultation."

Following speculative reports yesterday, a Stonewall rep tweeted: "Fantastic news - but in order to effectively #BanConversionTherapy any Bill must cover sexuality & gender ID, adults & children, conversion practices in all settings including faith, and have statutory support for survivors and victims."

Attitude has approached the Government Equalities Office for comment on the BBC's report.