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Government to finally announce conversion therapy ban in Queen’s Speech

Lily Wakefield May 10, 2021
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Boris Johnson in the government briefing room

Boris Johnson. (Hollie Adams/WPA Pool/Getty)

A conversion therapy ban will be announced in Tuesday’s (11 May) Queen’s Speech, according to ITV and BBC journalists.

ITV reported that the specific details of the ban are “still being worked on”, and that prime minister Boris Johnson has made banning the horrific practice a “personal priority”.

The BBC’s Jessica Parker shared on Twitter the Queen’s Speech was unlikely to give any specific timeframe for a conversion therapy ban and said it was “understood a consultation will be launched before any legislation is introduced”.

Sources, she said, have explained that the “short” consultation will look at how to “protect” professionals such as therapists and teachers as well as religious freedom. However, she said, the ban will cover both conversion therapy for gender and sexual identity, and will come with a victim’s support fund.

Nancy Kelley, CEO at Stonewall, said: “We welcome the news that a proposal will be put forward in the Queen’s Speech to introduce a Bill to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’.

“Any practice that seeks to convert, cure, change or cancel a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity is dangerous and harmful and must be banned. The same goes for the promotion or advertisement of such practices and attempts to remove a person from the country for the purpose of subjecting them to conversion.

“We hope to see the details of the Bill shortly. The UK Government must publish a full and comprehensive Bill that bans conversion practices in all forms, for all people and in all settings, including religious and faith-based settings, and it must also provide statutory support for victims and survivors. We urge the UK Government and Parliament to quickly pass legislation to ensure no LGBTQIA+ person is left at risk of serious harm by these inhumane and degrading practices.”

It has now been almost three years since the Tories pledged in 2018 to “eradicate” conversion therapy in the UK as part of their LGBT+ Action Plan, but in that time a ban has failed to materialise.

In March this year, three members of the government’s own LGBT+ Advisory Panel quit their positions over the government’s inaction on the issue, accusing the Conservative party of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT+ people. In response, Johnson claimed a ban was “technically complex”.

Gay evangelical Christian Jayne Ozanne, director of the Ozanne Foundation and first to quit the advisory panel, said: “Whilst I warmly welcome the news that there is finally to be a ban, I am concerned that we are going to have yet more consultation.

“The government simply need to protect the lives of all LGBT+ people by doing what the UN has advised and banning all forms of conversion therapy, including religious practices.

“They have consulted long enough, now it is time to act and bring forwad legislation that protects everyone from this inhumane and degrading abuse.”

Fears remain among campaigners that even if a conversion therapy ban is delivered by the government, exemptions for religious institutions would allow the practice to continue legally.

Last month, Johnson said that a UK conversion therapy ban would not apply to adults who seek “pastoral support” from churches while exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In a letter to the Evangelical Alliance, a Christian group that represents 3,500 churches across the UK and claims a ban could stop evangelical Christians from “seeking and receiving support to live chaste lives”, Johnson wrote: “I want to reassure you that I take freedom of speech and freedom of religion very seriously.

“As the government made clear in 2018, when we first made our commitment to end conversion therapy, we will continue to allow adults to receive appropriate pastoral support (including prayer), in churches and other religious settings, in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Like you, I do not want to see clergy and church members criminalised for normal non-coercive activity,” he added.

The Queen’s speech will be delivered from the throne of the House of Lords on Tuesday between 11am and 12.30pm.

 

 

Related topics: conversion therapy ban

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