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Boris Johnson says there’s ‘no place’ for ‘abhorrent’ conversion therapy – but a ban won’t come until after more research

Lily Wakefield July 20, 2020
Boris Johnson conversion therapy religious leaders

Boris Johnson told ITV News that he thought conversion therapy was "abhorrent". (ITV News)

Boris Johnson has agreed that there is “no place” for “abhorrent” conversion therapy in the UK as he confirmed there will be “plans to ban it” – but only after further research has been conducted.

The beginning of July marked two years since the Conservatives vowed to ban the traumatic practice of conversion therapy, which is often compared to torture and has been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide, and drug addiction.

In May, officers of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Global LGBT+ Rights called for UK equalities minister Liz Truss to take “urgent action” against the harmful practice, but her response – that a ban would come “shortly” – was criticised for being too vague.

Now, prime minister Boris Johnson has addressed the issue, but like his minister did not offer specifics on when or how a ban would be introduced.

He told ITV News: “On the gay conversion therapy thing, I think that’s absolutely abhorrent and has no place in a civilised society, has no place in this country.

“What we’re gonna do is a study right now on… where is this actually happening? How prevalent is it? And we will then bring forward plans to ban it.”

The Government Equalities Office told PinkNews that the “study” Johnson referred to is the same research Truss said had been commissioned last month.

In June, Truss said in parliament that conversion therapy is a “vile, abhorrent practice” that the Tories “want to stop”, and added: “We have commissioned research to look at the scope of the practice in the UK, and we will publish our plans shortly after we receive that research.”

However, conversion therapy has already been covered by the party’s LGBT+ Action Plan that surveyed more than 100,000 LGBT+ people in the UK.

In 2015, LGBT+ charity Stonewall commissioned its own research on conversion therapy, which found that 10 per cent of health and care staff in the UK have witnessed colleagues expressing the belief that lesbian, gay and bi people can be “cured” of their sexual orientation.

Pansexual MP and Liberal Democrat leadership contender Layla Moran accused the government of “dragging its feet” over a conversion therapy ban.

Moran said: “The government must stop dragging its feet and ban gay conversion therapy for good. No-one should be told that their identity is wrong and needs to be cured.

“We have already waited two years for action on this vital issue. Young people who are being subjected to this harmful and outdated practice should not be made to wait any longer.”

Johnson also briefly mentioned Gender Recognition Act reform when speaking to ITV News.

He said: “On the general issue of our response to the Gender Recognition Act, we’ve said that we’ll be responding over the summer, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

More: Boris Johnson, conversion therapy, liz truss, Prime Minister

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