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Government to ban conversion therapy after consultation on ‘free speech’ and ‘religious freedom’

Lily Wakefield May 11, 2021
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Queen's speech

The Queen promised that a conversion therapy ban will be "brought forward" in her speech at the State Opening of Parliament. (BBC)

A conversion therapy ban will soon be brought forward to parliament, it was confirmed in Tuesday’s (11 May) Queen’s Speech.

During her speech at the State Opening of Parliament, Queen Elizabeth II promised: “Measures will be brought forward to address racial and ethnic disparities and ban conversion therapy.”

The Queen added that her government “will strengthen and renew democracy and the constitution… protect freedom of speech and restore the balance of power between the executive, legislature and the courts.”

Following the Queen’s speech, Liz Truss, minister for women and equalities, confirmed in a statement that legislation would be brought forward following a public consultation.

She said: “As a global leader on LGBT+ rights, this government has always been committed to stamping out the practice of conversion therapy.

“We want to make sure that people in this country are protected, and these proposals mean nobody will be subjected to coercive and abhorrent conversion therapy.

“Alongside this legislation, we will make new funding available to ensure that victims have better access to the support they need.”

The Government Equalities Office said that the funding for victims would be in place by this summer, but again gave no timeline for legislation banning conversion therapy, insisting it would be introduced “as soon as parliamentary time allows, and following a consultation”.

The consultation is set to seek to opinions of the public and key stakeholder to “ensure that the ban can address the practice while protecting the medical profession; defending freedom of speech; and upholding religious freedom”.

It comes almost three years after the Conservative party’s 2018 pledge to “eradicate” conversion therapy in the UK as part of their LGBT+ Action Plan.

The Queen’s speech gave no details as to when a ban would be “brought forward” or any information on what it would cover, and campaigners fear that exemptions for religious institutions and “free speech” protections could allow the practice to continue legally.

Gay evangelical Christian Jayne Ozanne, director of the Ozanne Foundation, responded to the Queen’s speech: “I am relieved to hear that measures will be brought forward to ban conversion therapy.

“However, the government risks creating a highly dangerous loophole if it chooses to focus purely on ‘coercive’ practices.

“Most LGBT+ people in religious settings feel it is their duty to submit to those in authority and will therefore willingly follow their leaders’ ‘advice’, even if it causes them great harm.

“The government needs to implement what the UN and senior religious leaders have called for – a full ban on all conversion practices.

“We do not need yet more delay, they have consulted long enough. We now need action before more lives are lost!”

In March this year, Ozanne was one of three members of the government’s own LGBT+ Advisory Panel quit their positions, accusing the Conservative party of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT+ people.

 

Related topics: conversion therapy ban

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