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It’s almost 1,000 days since the Tories pledged to ‘eradicate’ traumatising conversion therapy – so where’s the ban?

Lily Wakefield March 4, 2021
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A coalition of LGBT+ organisations, mental health professionals and faith communities are calling for action on conversion therapy, almost 1,000 days after the UK government vowed to ban it.

On 28 March, it will have been 1,000 days since the Tories pledged in 2018 to “eradicate” the abhorrent practice as part of their LGBT+ Action Plan.

Conversion therapy is defined as an effort to change or “cure” a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation, and it can take many forms, including psychological, physical, religious or cultural interventions.

In July, 2020, prime minister Boris Johnson said conversion therapy “has no place in a civilised society”, but he and equalities minister Liz Truss claimed the government would have to do more research before banning the practice, which has often been compared to torture.

Ahead of marking 1,000 days without action, mental health professionals, faith communities and LGBT+ rights organisations have joined together in a coalition, organised by Stonewall, to urge the government deliver the ban, and end conversion therapy once and for all.

Matthew Hyndman, co-founder of the Ban Conversion Therapy (BCT) campaign, said: “LGBT+ people don’t need to be ‘cured’ or change who we are, and any intervention claiming to do this is untruthful, unethical, and preys on those of us who are in most need of support and community.”

“Being LGBT+ is beautiful, and there is no place in our society for any so-called ‘interventions’ which tell us otherwise,” said Stonewall chief executive Nancy Kelley.

“The UK government must stop dragging its feet and make good on its promise to bring in a full legal ban, and put a stop to conversion therapy in the UK for good.”

The coalition is encouraging people across the country to email their MPs and explain why the UK urgently needs a legislative ban on conversion therapy.

It is also campaigning for specialist support for LGBT+ conversion therapy survivors and victims.

Leni Morris, CEO of the LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop, said: “In pledging to ban so-called conversion practices, the government has recognised that there are LGBT+ people in the UK today suffering abuse and violence as a result of others trying to change or suppress who they are.

“We support current victims of these kinds of abuse in our services and see the damage caused by these practices.

“The government must not only recognise these victims, but fund specialist support services to help those in danger in the UK right now to find safety.”

Susie Green, CEO of the trans kids charity Mermaids and member of the coalition, added: “Conversion therapy affects the whole LGBT+ community, with transgender people being more likely to be impacted by this deeply concerning practice.

“It’s vital that government brings in a comprehensive legal ban, which protects the whole of the LGBTQIA+ community, children and adults alike.”

The National LGBT Survey found that seven per cent of LGBT+ people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy.

Transgender respondents to the survey were almost twice as likely to have been offered or undergone conversion therapy (13 per cent), and asexual people were also found to be at a higher risk, with 10 per cent having been offered or undergone conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy can cause lifelong trauma and mental health problems for LGBT+ people.

Attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity are often compared to torture and have been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide, and drug addiction.

A 2019 UK survey found that one in five people who had been through conversion therapy later attempted suicide.

Related topics: Boris Johnson, conversion therapy, mermaids, Stonewall

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