Manchester’s Andy Burnham vows to stamp out conversion therapy after Tories’ pathetic excuse for ban

Josh Milton May 17, 2022
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Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham wears a sticker in support of seafarers

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has made his opposition to all forms of conversion therapy loud and clear. (Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has vowed to take action against all forms of conversion therapy in the face of Boris Johnson’s trans-exclusive ban.

The Conservative government confirmed on 10 May, in the Queen’s Speech, that legislation to ban conversion therapy will soon be introduced – but confirmed neither trans people nor “consenting” adults will be covered.

Labour’s Andy Burnham is among the many who thinks this isn’t good enough. In a statement released Monday (16 May) ahead of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), Burnham said that Greater Manchester opposes conversion therapy that impacts “all members” of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Greater Manchester should be a safe city-region for everyone, and we are committed to ending conversion therapy for all members of the LGBTQ+ community,” he said.

Burnham promised to introduce sanctions for organisations that support or provide the dangerous and debunked practice.

Any organisation found carrying out conversion therapy will be stripped of all public funding.

“Just as we won’t do business with those who promote discrimination or division, we believe that organisations that support, promote or facilitate conversion therapy for any member of the LGBTQ+ community should not be receiving public funding,” Burnham said.

“Those organisations that support, promote, or facilitate conversion therapy or which campaign against the ending of conversion therapy should not be able to provide services on behalf of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, or to receive.

“I urge all public bodies, organisations and businesses in Greater Manchester to sign up to this commitment.”

Manchester forms LGBTQ+ panel

Burnham also launched the Greater Manchester LGBTQ+ Panel, a group of volunteers that will help shape policy and tackle inequality, according to a statement.

Signatories for the panel include the LGBT Foundation, the Albert Kennedy Trust, Manchester Pride and city councillors.

The Tory government, meanwhile, disbanded its LGBT Advisory Panel in April 2021 after a series of resignations, and has yet to replace it.

The resignations came with accusations the Tories were creating a “hostile environment” for LGBTQ+ people, including by scrapping reforms to the Gender Recognition Act and being slow to act on banning conversion therapy.

Officials said in January this year that a new panel would be “set out in due course” – four months on, and no further updates have been given.

Demonstrators hold placards during the No Ban Without Trans protest
The Conservative government’s handling of a conversion therapy ban has been met with widespread backlash. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

The Tory government has faced further resignations since it emerged it would move ahead with a ban on conversion therapy that excludes trans people.

Not only will the ban leave out trans people, but it will also contain loopholes allowing for “consenting” adults to undergo treatment and for some forms of faith-based conversion therapy to carry on.

Fifty-one per cent of people who have suffered conversion therapy had it conducted by faith groups, according to the government’s 2018 National LGBT Survey.

The government’s own research also found that trans and non-binary people are almost twice as likely to have been offered or have undergone conversion therapy.

Mark Fletcher, CEO of Manchester Pride, praised Burnham for his “bold and progressive” pledge.

“It’s a testament to the Mayor’s office to champion equal rights for all LGBTQ+ people, in Greater Manchester and beyond,” he told PinkNews.

“Manchester Pride fully supports his pledge, we believe trans rights are human rights and there’s no ban until there’s a total ban.”


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