The UK government is re-assessing its policy on the harmful practice of gay cure therapy.
Despite evidence that thousands of people are put through the practice, which experts universally agree is damaging, it remains legal in the UK.
The Government previously said that it “condemns any attempt to treat being gay, lesbian or bisexual as an illness” but refused to make the practice illegal.
Now the Home Office has indicated it is ready to end ‘gay cure’ once and for all following a major national survey into the lives of LGBT Brits.
A Government spokesperson told PinkNews: “This Government is absolutely clear that being LGBT is not an illness to be cured, and the practice of conversion therapy is wrong.
“In 2017, we conducted a national survey of LGBT people in the UK, which included questions about whether respondents have been offered or undertaken conversion therapy.
“This will help us investigate what additional steps we could take to end this practice.
“We are currently analysing the responses to the survey, and will be publishing a response later this year.”
Last month PinkNews revealed that the Core Issues Trust, an evangelical Christian group which advocates for efforts to change sexual orientation, was planning to screen a documentary about people who claim to have been cured of homosexuality.
The film’s creators claim it features 15 people who have “come out of homosexual practises” thanks to therapy or religion – and challenges the “myth… that people are born gay”.
Conversion therapy is already illegal in several countries, two Canadian provinces and nine US states – but the UK government has previously rejected calls to take a harder line on the issue.
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The NHS has signed up to a Memorandum of Understanding that bans it from referring anyone to conversion therapy services, but unregulated gay ‘cure’ therapists remain free to operate in the UK.
A petition launched by Liverpool Echo reporter Josh Parry, who went undercover to expose how ‘gay cure’ therapy continues to be offered to vulnerable people, has been signed by more than 12,000 times.
The petition was initially partly dismissed in a statement: “The Government totally condemns any attempt to treat being gay, lesbian or bisexual as an illness, however, the Government does not believe creating a criminal offence is the right way forward.”
“The Government fully recognises the importance of this issue and the adverse impact this treatment could have on lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people.”
Speaking in September, minister Jackie Doyle-Price claimed that there was no evidence of “widespread” gay ‘cure’ therapy in the UK.
Her statement that the government was “not aware” of widespread instances of gay conversion therapy was pretty surprising, just one week after a gay cure therapist was interviewed on Good Morning Britain.