TikTok announces outright ban on conversion therapy content. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson dithers and delays
TikTok has joined other social media platforms in banning content which promotes or relates to conversion therapy in the UK.
The social media platform revealed in a statement posted Wednesday (October 21) that it will remove “content that is hurtful to the LGBT+ community”. This includes posts promoting conversion therapy and the idea that no one is born LGBT+.
TikTok’s conversion therapy ban is part of a larger purge that is also targeting white nationalism, as well as content that takes aim at Jewish and Muslim communities.
Co-founder of the LGBT+ rights group Ban Conversion Therapy, Harry Hitchens, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the move, stressing other platforms have made similar vows with scant results.
“Time and time again, pledges have been made in the public and private sector to limit the reach of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ organisations,” he said.
“We’d now like to see those pledges turn into action”.
Earlier this year, Instagram and Facebook pledged to pull down content deemed to be promoting the harmful practice of conversion therapy, which has been widely discredited by major public health experts and groups.
MPs call on UK government to speed up action on conversion therapy ban.
British lawmakers welcomed TikTok’s conversion therapy ban – a move that they wish prime minister Boris Johnson himself would implement and not just talk about.
Johnson said in July that the act of conversion therapy was “absolutely abhorrent” and swore to “bring forward” plans to make it illegal in the UK. However he insisted that “research” must first be conducted, despite the thumping amount of pre-existing studies into the debased practice.
Labour MP Dan Carden praised TikTok for doing what the government has struggled to do.
He told PoliticsHome: “It’s welcome to see online platforms taking action to protect their users from dangerous and detrimental content involving gay conversion therapies and theories.
“Action from the government is well overdue. Indeed, it had been promised in recent years but sadly under Boris Johnson’s premiership we are seeing ministers backtracking on these commitments.”
Labour MP Abena Oppong-Asare said: “TikTok have done the right thing by banning content promoting gay conversion therapy. This is an abhorrent practice.”
Oppong-Asare called for the government to “act urgently” to ban conversion therapy.
“By some estimates, around 70 per cent of people who have gone through gay conversion therapy have had suicidal thoughts,” SNP’s Alyn Smith said.
“Over 30 per cent have attempted suicide, while over 40 per cent have self-harmed,
“It is a vile assault on a person’s happiness, and it should be outlawed entirely,” Smith added.
Conversion therapy survivors turn to TikTok to tell their stories.
A number of conversion therapy survivors have posted videos on TikTok detailing their experiences with conversion therapy, in the hopes of helping those who may be in the same position they were once in.
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Mike Dorn, 30, began talking about his experience when the US went into lockdown.
He told Reuters: “I was going through a pretty dark time being at home all the time and I knew that I needed to talk about it.”
At the age of 15, Dorn was forced into conversion therapy where he experienced mental and physical abuse.
“I was physically abused if I said anything or did anything they didn’t approve of,” he said.
“I was verbally abused almost every second of every day because if they weren’t going to put the fear of God into you, you weren’t going to change.”