Nearly one in five LGBTQ+ people have experienced so-called ‘conversion’ practices in the UK, a new study from Galop, the UK’s leading anti-abuse charity for LGBTQ+ people, has found.
Trans and non-binary people were subjected to it at higher rates than other members of the LGBTQ+ community, with 43% reported to have experienced it.
‘Conversion’ practices are typically defined as any attempt at changing or suppressing a person’s sexuality or gender identity, often involving techniques such as electroshock therapy or prayer.
It has been widely condemned by health experts and bodies all over the world, including the National Health Service and the World Health Organisation, with some comparing it to torture.
Galop regularly works with survivors of ‘conversion’ practices, one of which told the charity: “My mother tried to make me date men when I was dating a woman, exposed me to images of male genitalia and heterosexual sex acts and pornography in an attempt to ‘fix me’, and threatened to poison my food on a regular basis when I refused to break up with my girlfriend.”
More than half (56%) of those who have endured it stated that it happened because of their family.
“I was told that I couldn’t be gay whilst living under [my father’s] roof, and was thrown out of home the week I turned 16,” another explained to Galop.
NEW RESEARCH on conversion practices out today 📢
Nearly 1 in 5 of LGBT+ people in the UK have been subjected to someone trying to change, ‘cure’ or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity.
— Galop (@GalopUK) January 25, 2023
The study comes as the UK government continues to drag its feet on banning ‘conversion therapy’ for all.
A commitment to restricting it was first made by Theresa May’s administration in 2018, though is yet to actually be implemented.
Boris Johnson’s government made a number of backtracks to these promises in 2021, resulting in a watered down version of what was originally proposed.
This sparked widespread outrage that resulted in a protest outside Downing Street and a petition that was signed more than 140,000 times.
Draft bill to ban ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK is expected to be published soon
However, it was recently announced that the government was planning to publish a draft bill to ban the practice for all – though its exact details remain unclear.
“We will be publishing a draft bill to ban conversion practices, protecting everyone,” a spokesperson confirmed on 17 January.
“The Bill will go through pre legislative scrutiny in this parliamentary session. We hope to send it to a Joint Committee for scrutiny and will work with the Liaison Committee accordingly.
“There are clearly issues that are not fully resolved. We are determined that legislation will not cause harm to children and young adults experiencing gender related distress by inadvertently impacting on legitimate conversations parents or clinicians may have with their children.
“Pre legislative scrutiny exists to prevent this, and other unintended consequences, by utilising stakeholder expertise and input from parliamentarians.”
Exact details of the government’s proposed ‘conversion therapy’ ban are yet to be announced beyond the promise it will protect “everyone”.
Whether or not it will be fully comprehensive or include any loopholes (religious or otherwise) that allow these practices to continue in the UK is yet to be determined.