Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels
The UK Government has confirmed that its proposed ban on 'conversion therapy' will not extend to transgender people or lesbian, gay, or bisexual adults who 'consent' to the practice.
For a second year running, a commitment to outlaw the widely debunked practice was included in the Queen's Speech outlining the government's proposed legislative plans for the year - but 2022's version has been significantly watered down compared to 2021's unfulfilled pledge.
Tuesday's (10 May) Queen's Speech was read out in Parliament by Prince Charles for the first time after Queen Elizabeth II was forced to pull out of the event for the first time in almost 60 years due to 'mobility issues'.
"Introduce a ban that protects all LGBTQ+ people"
Responding to the speech Stonewall has called on the UK Government to "stop playing politics with our lives"
The charity says, "A ban on conversion practices that doesn’t cover both sexual orientation and gender identity protects nobody. Those who want to erase or suppress LGBTQ+ people from living their lives do not differentiate between the two."
It continues: "Globally, all recent bans have covered both because the international community recognize that the motivations behind the practice stem from one thing: a hatred of LGBTQ+ people.
"The UK Government must stop playing politics with our lives and introduce a ban that protects all LGBTQ+ people."
For the second year, the Queen’s Speech has promised to #BanConversionTherapy. But today it made explicit that trans conversion practices will not be included and adults will be able to “consent”.— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) May 10, 2022
This pared down bill will end up protecting nobody.🧵 https://t.co/hAeUpZkVP0
The briefing notes accompanying today's speech clearly state that the purpose of a 'conversion therapy' bill would be to "Ban conversion therapy practices intended to change sexual orientation" only.
Additionally, the proposed legislation will not ban 'conversion therapy' for lesbian, gay, or bisexual adults who 'consent' to it, stating that the new law will "protect under-18s, regardless of circumstance, and over-18s who do not consent and who are coerced or forced to undergo conversion therapy practices."
But another main element listed is: "Protecting freedom of speech, ensuring parents, clinicians and teachers can continue to have conversations with people seeking support," which could be considered a loophole.
It clarifies that the bill would apply to England and Wales before saying: "Recognising the complexity of issues and need for further careful thought, we will carry out separate work to consider the issue of Transgender Conversion Therapy further."
A criminal offence will also be introduced "banning non-physical conversion therapies to complement existing legislation which protects people from act which inflict physical harm."
As reported by The Guardian, a spokesperson for Downing Street told journalists regarding the protection of under-18s only, "This is a difficult area and we need to strike the right balance. I think it’s important to wait for the full details of the bill to be set out."
On whether the loophole could see people still being able to access religious counselling the spokesperson said: "It’s important that the freedom to express religious teachings is not affected by the ban, individuals will still be able to access support and counsel from religious leaders should they wish.
"But that’s a separate issue to seeking to force this abhorrent practice on people."
The debacle of the 'conversion therapy' ban in April saw massive outrage against the government, even from within its own ranks.
More than 100 LGBTQ organisations boycotted the government's LGBTQ rights conference, 'Safe To Be Me' which was then cancelled.
The Attitude May/June issue is out now.