Tory MP insists UK ban on traumatising conversion therapy must include vital protections for trans people
The government has repeatedly promised to ban the traumatising and pseudoscientific practice – but conversion therapy remains a reality across the UK.
Alicia Kearns, a Tory MP for Rutland and Melton, has reaffirmed her party’s commitment to banning the practice in an article for Politics Home – and she has insisted that any legislation must also prohibit attempts to change a trans person’s identity.
In the article, Kearns said she has worked with 15 LGBT+ advocacy organisations and eight religious denominations over the last few months to form a proposal to the government on banning the practice.
“We need legislation to criminalise those who force someone to undergo conversion therapy, and those who abet, aid and procure these abusive services to repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation or manifestation of that sexual orientation,” Kearns wrote.
She said LGBT+ people need “specific legislation” to tackle conversion therapy so that those responsible can be properly prosecuted.
Kearns continued: “Legislation should also include a power for family courts to put in place protection orders to stop parents from forcing their children to undergo this abusive practice, or even taking them abroad for it, and a mandatory legal requirement to report known or suspected cases of conversion therapy.”
Conversion therapy ban must include trans people
“Any ban must also include not only conversion therapy to change sexual orientation, but also attempts to prevent, against the individual’s wishes, a gender transition.
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“This must not ban support which in good faith explores someone’s gender identity but stop non-consensual attempts to prevent someone from expressing their own identity.”
Kearns went on to say that there must be “provisions” made for the “complex discussions around faith and sexuality”, and that a ban “should include a recognition of our fundamental freedoms of thought and belief”.
However, she added: “But that cannot be an excuse for inaction.”
It is now more than two years since the UK government pledged to ban conversion therapy – but the traumatising practice remains legal.
In July 2020, prime minister Boris Johnson said the practice “has no place in a civilised society” and said that more research would have to be done before conversion therapy could be banned.
In December 2020, hundreds of religious leaders called for conversion therapy to be banned, declaring that LGBT+ people “are a precious part of creation”.