Labour MP Geraint Davies has published a backbench bill that would criminalise conversion therapy and leave practitioners facing a fine of £5,000 per violation.
The Labour politician on Tuesday (March 19) published the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) and Conversion Therapy Bill, which would make it a criminal offence to attempt to ‘cure’ gay people in England and Wales.
Under the proposed law, it would become an offence to attempt to “change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, or suppress a person’s expression of sexual orientation or gender identity” based on the assumption “that any sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently preferable to any other.”
The bill would also make it an offence for a person to “pretend to be a counsellor or psychotherapist” without holding relevant qualifications and being registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
People who violate the proposed law, which is similar to laws that exist in 15 US states, would be guilty of an offence that could carry a maximum fine of £5,000.
Geraint Davies MP: Gay ‘cure’ therapy has harmful impact
Davies, the MP for Swansea West, told PinkNews: “My bill empowers the government to deliver on the promises of the 2018 LGBT action plan by criminalising conversion therapy and enables people to hold practitioners accountable.”
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“It is shocking that 7 percent of LGBTQIA+ people in the UK have been offered or undergone conversion therapy.
“Practices which seek to ‘cure’ or correct people’s sexual orientation or gender identity have been proven to have a harmful impact upon the mental health of those it purports to treat with some victims experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder long-term as a result.
“It is time that this abusive practice is recognised and punished as an offence.”
The MP has been campaigning for action on the issue for years.
UK government wants to ‘end the practice of conversion therapy’
In June 2018, the UK government published an LGBT Action Plan that included a pledge to “bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK.”
The plan said the government would “fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy.”
However, the government is yet to put forward more detailed proposals.
In an interview with PinkNews in February, junior equalities minister Baroness Williams said: “It takes different forms, conversion therapy, it is not a simple thing, and we are doing some research, looking into what the right solutions are, both in the legislative space and the non-legislative space.
“I won’t preempt it, but it may well be the case that legislation comes forward.”