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Hindu and Buddhist communities call for ‘immediate’ UK ban on ‘unethical’ conversion therapy

Lily Wakefield June 18, 2021
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A woman brandishes a Rainbow flag during a Holi Party before the Gay Pride Parade in Barcelona

A Pride flag is seen at The Hindu festival of Holi. (AFP via Getty/ LLUIS GENE)

Hindu Council UK and the Buddhist Dhamma Center have called for an “immediate” ban on conversion therapy in the UK.

Hindu Council UK is a charity that represents various denominations of the religion, and serves as “an effective voice on policy matters” for UK Hindus.

In a statement released Monday (16 June), Hindu Council UK called for the Boris Johnson and the UK government to bring in an “immediate” conversion therapy ban.

The charity said: “The Hindu Council UK affirms that any practice that seeks to change, cure, cancel or suppress a person’s sexuality, gender identity (commonly known as ‘conversion therapy’) has no place in society, is unethical and harmful, and is not supported by evidence.”

Using Hindu beliefs to explain its stance, it continued: “Brahma created both male and female as equals in the golden egg of the cosmic womb (Hiranyagarbha) at the beginning of Creation and in addition, the Rishis of the Rig Veda recognised the existence of a tertiary nature (Prakriti).”

Hindu philosophy recognises the existence of the third gender, which is known as “tritiya-prakriti” or “tertiary nature”. This concept encompasses many different kinds of trans and gender-diverse people.

The statement continued: “The Vedic Rishis also revealed the law of Karma which allow complete freedom, free choice, to live a life of dignity, in accordance with the ten principles of Dharma.

“We, therefore, call on the government to ban the so-called ‘conversion therapy’ as a degrading and harmful practice without delay.”

On Friday (18 June), Buddhist charity the Dhamma Center also released a statement calling for a conversion therapy ban.

In a letter to the trustees of the Ozanne Foundation, seen by PinkNews, it said: “We believe that all people, independent of their sexuality or gender identity, are treasured and valued beings and are a precious part of the Universe.”

Like Hindu Council UK, the Buddhist organisation confirmed that conversion therapy “has no place in the modern world” and called for an immediate ban from the UK government.

A UK conversion therapy ban was confirmed during the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on 11 May, but the Government Equalities Office said that legislation would only be advanced following a public consultation process which would “ensure that the ban can address the practice while protecting the medical profession; defending freedom of speech; and upholding religious freedom”.

Despite the government’s insistence on “upholding religious freedom”, multiple faith communities have called for a ban to be brought forward immediately.

Earlier this month, the bishop of Manchester backed the prosecution of faith leaders who provide conversion therapy, including prayer, and suggested that the consultation was an excuse for “foot-dragging”.

He said that every day the consultation on conversion therapy goes on, “young people are continuing to suffer abuse disguised as therapy”, and added: “Their harm is real and immediate. For their sakes we need to make this consultation both short and to the point.”

Related topics: conversion therapy

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