I am committed to ensuring LGBT+ people can live in safety and dignity and continue to support the LGBT+ community in Parliament (see my pride month speech here). I completely agree that LGBT+ conversion therapies must be banned as a matter of urgency. Conversion therapies are exploitative and damaging.
On 29 October 2021, the UK Government published its long-awaited consultation on proposals to ban conversion therapy. The consultation closed on 4 February 2022, and the Government advises it is in the process of analysing the responses received and preparing legislation for spring, which it says it will introduce “as soon as parliamentary time allows”. I will follow developments on this closely.
It is deeply concerning that the Ozanne Foundation’s 2018 Faith & Sexuality Survey found that over 58% of people who had experienced attempts to change their sexual orientation had suffered from mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Likewise, its 2020 ‘Conversion Therapy’ and Gender Identity Survey found that over 92% of people who had experienced attempts to change their gender identity had suffered from mental health issues (see my question in Parliament addressing LGBT+ mental health here ).
This is why I have also asked written Parliamentary Questions to the Government, such as:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of mental health support made available to LGBT people during the covid-19 outbreak. View their response here.
However, I am very concerned that it has already taken more than three years to get to this point, and unfortunately the proposals are far from comprehensive. Loopholes appear to leave the door ajar for people to ‘consent’ to conversion therapy on religious grounds. This is unacceptable. I would urge the Government to divert its energies to listening to survivors of these harmful practices and the wider LGBT+ community, not those wishing to allow conversion therapy to continue.
Furthermore, it is deeply worrying that while the Government appears to be prepared to bring forward legislation to tackle lesbian, gay and bisexual conversion therapy, they are unwilling and unprepared to tackle trans conversion therapy. Trans rights are human rights – transgender exclusion is unacceptable – we must legislate for LGB and the T now and ban conversion therapy for good.
There is broad consensus from faith leaders across the diversity of faith communities in the UK that conversion therapy is abuse. In December 2020, a significant cross-faith conference of hundreds of religious leaders from around the world supported a ban on conversion therapy.
I believe we must introduce legislation, such as protection orders, for people who are vulnerable to pressure to suppress, deny or forcibly change their sexuality or gender identity and, crucially, introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy in the UK for good, for all members of the LGB, and the T, community. This is the only way we can hope to end the continued abuse of vulnerable LGBT+ people.
More widely, I welcome that Instagram and Facebook have blocked the promotion of conversion therapy on their sites, and I hope other social media companies will follow suit.