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The many, many countries that have banned conversion therapy. See, Boris Johnson, it isn’t hard

Maggie Baska April 1, 2022
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Campaigners against LGBT+ conversion therapy

Campaigners against LGBT+ conversion therapy. (Getty/Mark Kerrison/In Pictures)

While Boris Johnson has wasted years promising to ban conversion therapy in England and Wales, many countries already prohibit the discredited practice. 

The prime minister has been widely condemned after first U-turning on plans to ban conversion therapy, before changing tack again and promising that a ban would be forthcoming – though reportedly, it will not include trans conversion therapy.

The fiasco comes four years after Theresa May first promised the ban the pseudo-scientific practice, which has been thoroughly debunked by countless medical, psychological and healthcare professionals worldwide.

Johnson picked up the mantle a year after he became prime minister, and since 2020 has been talking up a proposed ban.

It’s been reported that after his most recent shift in thinking, an LGB-only ban will be presented as part of May’s Queen’s Speech – though the queer community has been quick to tell the prime minister that a ban that doesn’t protect trans people is no ban at all.

Without the full ban, the UK government is lagging behind BrazilEcuadorMaltaTaiwan, and Germany which all have national bans on conversion therapy. 

There are partial, indirect or regional bans in SpainUruguayMexicoAustraliaAlbaniaIndiaFijiSamoa, Argentina, Albania and Norway

In the US, several states and many cities have banned the practice, but America has no federal ban on conversion therapy.

CanadaFrance and New Zealand all rang in 2022 by banning conversion therapy. The Netherlands introduced a bill earlier this year seeking to outlaw the discredited practice.

In 2021, Ireland’s children’s minister Roderic O’Gorman announced that research on legislating for a conversion therapy ban would begin in the coming year. 

Johnson’s proposed ban would only cover England and Wales. But Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon last year pledged that the SNP will outlaw the “discriminatory and harmful practice” of conversion therapy.

The Welsh government has also signalled in the wake of Johnson’s U-turn that it will seek to take matters into its own hands.

NHS England has disavowed conversion therapy as “unethical and potentially harmful”.

Leading mental health charity Mind warned conversion practices “cause psychological and physical harm to individuals who are subject to it” and international LGBT+ organisation IGLA World warns it has a “destructive effect on people’s lives from a very early age”.

UK charity Stonewall says that the practice is based on an incorrect “assumption” that being LGBT+ is a “mental illness that can be ‘cured’”.

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