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The UK Government cancels its LGBTQ conference after 'conversion' therapy row

It follows more than 100 LGBTQ organisations walking out of the event over the government's exclusion of trans people.

2022-04-05

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki and Pexels

The UK Government has cancelled its global LGBTQ conference after more than 100 LGBTQ organisations walked away over the government's plans to ban 'conversion' therapy, according to reports.

Last week it was leaked the government was dropping plans to ban 'conversion' therapy altogether but after a fierce backlash, they recommitted to a ban that would exclude trans people. 

Stonewall was among the LGBTQ organisations that withdrew their support for the 'Safe To Be Me' conference issuing a statement on Monday (4 April) describing the move as "appalling".

They added that "we cannot in good conscience back Safe To Be Me at a time when our community’s trust in the UK Government is shattered". 

Gendered Intelligence, a group supporting trans youth, withdrew its support in January citing a lack of legal recognition for trans people as a contributing factor.

They've also told Attitude that they were motivated to withdraw because of statements made regarding 'conversion' therapy legislation from the UK equalities watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who suggested pausing legislation arguing it lacked clarity.

ITV's Paul Brand reports that the decision to cancel the conference, which would have been a global first, was made by the Equalities Minister, Liz Truss following the walkouts and subsequent boycott. 

The BBC reports that there were discussions held earlier today to try and salvage the conference, but that it was ultimately decided to cancel. 

It was hoped the conference would be an opportunity for countries to come together on LGBTQ issues and focus on tackling sexual inequality around the world while encouraging countries where it's illegal to be LGBTQ to take action.

The confirmation that the event will not go ahead at all also follows the resignation of Iain Anderson earlier today (Tuesday 5 April) as the government's first LGBT Business Champion.

Writing a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Anderson said he had "no choice" but to resign over the debacle caused by the government, which he said had damaged trust in "the Government's overall commitment to LGBT+ rights".

It also follows criticism of Boris Johnson from one of his own Conservative MPs, Jamie Wallis, who became the UK's first trans MP when he came out last week

Following the backlash to its plans to exclude trans people from a ban, the government put out a statement on Monday saying it would carry out "separate work" on a ban on trans conversion therapy as it wanted to avoid "unintended consequences", especially for under-18s.