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Senior MPs demand Boris Johnson enact ‘vital’ conversion therapy ban and finally ‘deliver on his commitments’

Josh Milton February 19, 2021
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Boris Johnson at a COVID-19 media briefing in Downing Street. (Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has been urged by MPs to prioritise a conversion therapy ban ahead of the Queen’s Speech.

Months after he pledged to ban “abhorrent” conversion therapy, the prime minister is continuing to drag his heels – and his MPs are growing impatient.

Bernard Jenkin, chair of the influential Commons Liaison Committee, has urged the government to finally made do on its promise to outlaw the debased and debunked practise, The Independent reported.

The committee, which scrutinises committees and the premier, acknowledged the role of the coronavirus pandemic in stunting other policy priorities – but, Jenkin said, enough is enough.

Speaking on behalf of other senior lawmakers in a letter to Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP wrote: “The government’s programme has been understandably impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But now that this is closer to being under control, we would urge the government to deliver on its commitments to and demands from select committees on other vitally important legislation which committees are keen to see brought forward.”

He added: “Legislation is yet to be introduced on proposals for […] banning the practice of conversion therapy.”

All British health organisations have called for conversion therapy ban

So-called conversion therapy is often compared to torture and has been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide, and drug addiction.

Boris Johnson has faced pressure from not only LGBT+ advocacy groups and charities but fellow Tory lawmakers, faith leadersall major British health and psychiatry bodies and the public to ban the damaging pseudoscience.

Theresa May’s government first vowed to outlaw it more than two years ago as part of the Conservative Party’s LGBT Action Plan.

It was a pledge, however, that quickly gathered dust. During the 2019 general election, Johnson reaffirmed the promise in an interview with PinkNews – he didn’t mention it again until seven months later.

Equalities minister Liz Truss last June vaguely said she would be “bringing forward plans” to ban conversion therapy. In July, Johnson said these plans would be brought forward after “more research”.

Activists have long stressed that until a ban is enforced, conversion therapy will continue to cause LGBT+ pain.

A survey conducted by the Ozanne Foundation in 2019 found that one in five survivors of conversion therapy in the UK later attempted suicide, while two in five said they had suicidal thoughts after undergoing the harmful practice.

 

Related topics: Bernard Jenkin, Boris Johnson, Commons Liaison Committee, conversion therapy, liz truss, UK

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