UK

Thousands of people sign petition urging the government to outlaw ‘horrific’ trans conversion therapy

Josh Milton April 10, 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)

Thousands of furious and frustrated Britons have signed a damning petition urging the government to ban gay and trans conversion therapy.

The British government backpedalled last month on a long-promised conversion therapy ban only to U-turn once more and commit to excluding trans people from the legislation.

But to LGBT+ campaign groups, top medical bodies, some government officials and lawmakers and nearly 80,000 people, such a decision is disgraceful.

“It’s shameful that the UK intends to deliberately exclude trans people from a ban in contrast to the approach taken by many countries, despite trans people being at a greater risk of experiencing the harmful and degrading practices,” a Parliament petition states.

“The government’s own figures show that trans people are nearly twice as likely to be at risk of experiencing the harmful & degrading practices of conversion therapy.

“A ban needs to ensure all forms of conversion therapy are banned.”

Once a UK Government and Parliament petition is signed by 10,000 people, the government must issue a formal response. At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered by the Petitions Committee for debate in parliament.

Petition shows the British public wants ‘our most vulnerable to be protected’ from conversion therapy

More than one in 10 trans people have been offered or have undergone conversion therapy, according to the government’s National LGBT Survey.

At the time of writing, more than 78,600 people have signed the petition – and the figure continues to surge ahead of a protest Sunday afternoon (10 April) outside Westminster.

Organised by Ban Conversion Therapy, an LGBT+ and faith network, demonstrators hope to show decisive unity against a government they see as seeking to divide them.

Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, is a discredited and pseudo-scientific practice that can see everything from prayer to electroshock and institutionalisation used in a futile attempt to alter a person’s sexuality or gender.

Leading scientific and medical groups stress that such attempts to change a person’s identity are unfounded and can lead to “long-lasting psychological harm, substance abuse, or even suicide,” the British Medical Association has warned.

A draft version of the government’s ban tackles conversion therapy from licenced healthcare professionals and practising on minors. But the law leaves a gap for religious or spiritual providers to continue to carry out conversion therapy, as well as “consenting” adults.

Jayne Ozanne, a former LGBT+ advisor to the government and evangelical Anglican, told PinkNews that Johnson’s administration must understand that all forms of a practice compared to torture by human rights groups must be outlawed.

Jayne Ozanne poses for a portrait near Westminster Abbey
Jayne Ozanne is among the most high-decibel people campaigning against conversion therapy. (DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

“The swift response from the British public shows just how concerned so many people are of the need to protect our most vulnerable in our society today,” she said.

“The prime minister needs to understand that this issue affects all in our society who want to build a Britain that protects all from this horrific abuse called ‘conversion therapy’.”

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