LGBTQ+ organisations and faith communities are calling for the UK government to ‘stop dragging its feet’ on the conversion therapy ban.
March 28 will mark exactly 1,000 days since the government announced a commitment to end conversion therapy practices in the UK.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May promised to outlaw ‘abhorrent’ conversion therapy treatment as a part of the LGBT Action Plan in 2018.
Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to ‘erase, repress, cure or change’ someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity through forms psychological and physical methods.
At its most extreme, it involves shock therapy where LGBTQ+ people are subjected to jolts of electricity while watching scenes of same-sex affection.
Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive of the Stonewall charity has condemned the government’s delay in implementing a ban: “Being LGBTQIA+ is beautiful, and there is no place in our society for any so-called ‘interventions’ which tell us otherwise.
“The UK Government must stop dragging its feet and make good on its promise to bring in a full legal ban, and put a stop to conversion therapy in the UK for good.”
🚨 TAKE ACTION 🚨 At the end of March it’ll have been 1000 days since the UK Gov promised to ban conversion therapy. We risk not having a meaningful legal ban if we don’t act today. Email your MP to #BanConversionTherapy now 👉 https://t.co/U3SeCFBYJP pic.twitter.com/XBieE8wGGs
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) March 4, 2021
In light of the 1,000 day milestone, a collective of mental health practitioners, LGBTQ+ organisations and religious communities are once again calling for the UK government to implement a legislative ban on conversion therapy.
Matthew Hyndman, co-founder of the BCT Campaign, said: “LGBTQIA+ people don’t need to be ‘cured’ or change who we are, and any intervention claiming to do this is untruthful, unethical, and preys on those of us who are in most need of support and community.”
Data from the National LGBT Survey suggests that seven per cent of LGBTQ+ individuals have been offered or undergone conversion therapy. Transgender respondents are almost twice as likely to have been offered or undergone conversion therapy at thirteen per cent.
Dr Igi Moon, Chair of the Memorandum of Understanding on conversion therapy, said: “All practitioners who want to work competently with LGBTA people of all ages, and to provide them with a safe and respectful environment in which they can explore who they are without judgement or fear, will support this campaign in bringing an end to conversion therapy.”
According to a poll shared last year, 62 per cent of people surveyed by YouGov – on behalf of the Ozanne Foundation – support a ban, while only 14 per cent did not. The other 24 per cent were unsure.
Of those surveyed with a religious affiliation, 57 per cent were in favour of a ban and 15 per cent were not.
The practice – which has been discredited by the NHS and the World Psychiatric Association – refers to any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and often involves techniques like electroshock therapy or prayer.
Campaigners are urging the government to act now on a two-year-old promise to make the practice illegal.
Last July, an open letter was sent to Boris Johnson and Downing Street calling for a full ban on gay ‘conversion therapy’ for all LGBTQ+ people in the UK, which has attracted the support of numerous celebrities.
The letter, backed by Elton John, Stephen Fry, Dua Lipa, Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall, Stonewall, Mermaids, The Ozanne Foundation, Amnesty UK, Gendered Intelligence, All-Out and many others was sent to Downing Street and Equalities Minister, Liz Truss, on 10 July.
Other signatures include Olly Alexander from Years & Years, trans activist Munroe Bergdorf, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, actor Alan Cumming, writer Russell T. Davies, comedian Mae Martin, Liberal Democrat leadership contender Layla Moran, co-founder of UK Black Pride Phyll Opoku-Gyimah and singers Rina Sawayama and Charli XCX.
Truss previously backed the ban, but the group are fairly concerned that this will not be far-reaching enough and will fail to protect LGBTQ+ community.