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LGBT+ Tory MPs urged to pile pressure on Boris Johnson over long-delayed conversion therapy ban

Emma Powys Maurice March 2, 2021
Stonewall coalition demands UK government bans conversion therapy

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

LGBT+ Conservatives are being urged to use their weight in parliament to demand that Boris Johnson deliver on his long-awaited pledge to ban conversion therapy.

The traumatising practise of conversion therapy is still legal in the UK despite the government pledging to eradicate it over two and a half years ago.

As the prime minister continues to drag his heels, the Peter Tatchell Foundation is calling on queer Tories to stand up for their community and demand a ban.

“We believe that an appeal to Boris Johnson from LGBT+ Conservative MPs is likely to have the strongest influence. Their support will, hopefully, help encourage the prime minister to end the ceaseless delays and bring forward legislation,” Tatchell explained.

He encouraged all of the 24 out LGBT+ Conservative MPs to sign an open letter pressing the prime minister to confirm that the government is still committed to ending conversion therapy.

“We are very appreciative of your support for LGBT+ human rights,” Tatchell began, addressing the MPs directly.

“[We] respectfully request your help in pressing the prime minister to honour the pledge to outlaw the unethical, ineffective and harmful practice of LGBT+ conversion therapy – a practice that has been condemned by all the world’s leading medical, psychological and counselling professional associations.

“As a LGBT+ Conservative MP, we believe that your support for legislation to ban conversion therapy will carry particular weight and moral authority.”

The open letter highlights Johnson’s lack of progress in enacting any conversion therapy legislation, and reminds the prime minister of the shocking suicide risk of those forced to undergo the so-called therapy.

It also offers the example of the Australian state of Victoria, which successfully introduced a conversion therapy ban in 2019, “as a standard for others to follow”.

“We would be grateful if you could confirm to us that the government is still committed to outlawing this abusive practice and, if so, when we can expect legislation to be tabled,” the letter concludes.

“Conversion therapy has no place in our society. We urge you to ban it at the earliest opportunity.”

It’s past time for a conversion therapy ban in the UK

The UK government first pledged to ban conversion therapy in July 2018, and has repeatedly promised to do so thereafter – but it still has nothing to show for it.

After continued pressure on the matter, equalities minister Liz Truss said she would be “bringing forward plans” to outlaw conversion therapy in June 2020. In July, Johnson agreed that the practice “has no place in a civilised society”.

Despite this, they subsequently claimed the government would have to do more research before banning conversion therapy, and it remains legal across the UK.

The practice has long been condemned by multiple health and psychiatry bodies across the world, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry.

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.

Meanwhile, less than a third of those surveyed said they went on to “lead a happy and fulfilled life”.

 

More: Boris Johnson, conversion therapy

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