UK

Lesbian, gay and bi people tell Boris Johnson in no uncertain terms: There’s no LGB without the T

Maggie Baska April 1, 2022
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A demonstrator holds a placard that says "Actually Ban Conversion Therapy" in Trafalgar Square during the Reclaim Pride protest

A demonstrator holds a placard that says 'Actually Ban Conversion Therapy' in Trafalgar Square during the Reclaim Pride protest. (Getty/Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket)

LGBT+ people across the UK have denounced Boris Johnson for dropping plans to ban trans conversion therapy.

Johnson performed a sharp double U-turn Thursday night (31 March): first confirming reports he was dropping plans to scrap a conversion therapy ban, then deciding to press on with a ban, but not to include trans people in it.

After initially stating that the government would pursue non-legislative measures against conversion therapy, a spokesperson told PinkNews Friday morning (1 April): “The government has a proud record on LGBT rights, and the prime minister is committed to bringing forward legislation to ban conversion therapy.

“The content, scope and timing of the proposed bill will be confirmed in due course.”

Downing Street did not confirm reports from ITV News’ UK editor Paul Brand, who broke the initial story, that a ban will now only outlaw conversion therapy for a person’s sexual orientation while the equivalent practice for trans people will remain legal

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer people quickly condemned the decision on social media, declaring that any ban that doesn’t include trans people isn’t a real ban.

Many shared their support for the trans community by using the #LGBwiththeT hashtag on Twitter. 

The National LGBT Survey, published by the Government Equalities Office in 2018, found that two per cent of respondents had previously undergone conversion therapy, and a further five per cent had been offered it. 

Horrifically, trans respondents were more likely to have undergone or been offered conversion therapy (13 per cent) compared to cisgender people (seven per cent). 

Theresa May first promised to ban conversion therapy in 2018 as part of her Conservative government’s LGBT Action Plan. 

This promise was reiterated by Liz Truss in 2020 when she declared that conversion therapy is a “vile, abhorrent practice” during a speech in the House of Commons. She also said the government had commissioned research to look at the “scope of the practice in the UK”. 

In July that year, Johnson promised legislation that would ban conversion therapy, which he described as “absolutely abhorrent”. He added that it has “no place in a civilised society” and “has no place in this country”. 

In May 2021, the Queen’s Speech promised that measures would be “brought forward” to ban it. 

Trans rights have been a flashpoint for debate in Westminster for several years. 

In 2020, Liz Truss scrapped plans to meaningfully reform the Gender Recognition Act process, which would have made it easier for trans people to change their legal gender. LGBT+ groups condemned Truss’ decision as a “shocking failure of leadership”.

It was revealed last year that Truss’ Equalities Office had “often” met with various anti-trans groups in the past and signalled support for their beliefs. 

It’s understood that Truss and the Equalities Office were not part of the decision to ditch the trans conversion therapy ban, however ITV reported Truss as being “not ideologically committed” to a ban.

More: Boris Johnson, conversion therapy ban

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