Caroline Nokes, a Conservative MP who chairs the Women and Equalities Committee, has spoken out against having a ‘consent clause’ included a ban of so-called ‘conversion therapy’.
The government is said to have a draft bill for its long-awaited ban ready for sign-off from the Prime Minister, though it includes a loophole that will allow adults to ‘volunteer’ for the harmful practice, ITV News reported.
Rishi Sunak is currently considering the wording of the bill before giving the Equalities Office the green light to move forward with it.
Campaigners argue that no one should be able to ‘consent’ to their own abuse, which is what ‘conversion therapy’ amounts to.
“As with all kinds of abuse, the perpetrators of conversion practices have power over a victim – and so a victim cannot freely consent,” Leni Morris, CEO of LGBTQ+ anti-abuse charity Galop, recently told GAY TIMES.
“Some survivors who contact us have been through conversion practices for decades – and many victims believe they consented to what happened to them at the time. They believe that the abuse they experienced was their fault. To have legislation confirm that to a victim would be cruel, and not something we would do to victims of any other kind of abuse.”
Now, Nokes has spoken out against having such a loophole after ‘conversion therapy’ survivor and activist, Jayne Ozanne, suggested that having she and the Women and Equalities Committee scrutinise the legislation would be the “wise” choice.
The Committee has offered to do it – but we have also made our view clear that a ban needs to be fully inclusive and without the so called consent clause – probably rules us out.
— Caroline Nokes MP (@carolinenokes) June 22, 2023
“The Committee has offered to do it – but we have also made our view clear that a ban needs to be fully inclusive and without the so called consent clause – probably rules us out,” Nokes told Ozanne on Twitter.
Ben Howlett, a former Conservative Party MP, responded stating that he is “happy to help push the campaign for an amendment when the time comes”.
‘Conversion therapy’ is typically defined as any attempt at changing or suppressing a person’s sexuality or gender identity and often involves techniques such as intensive prayer and, in some cases, electroshock therapy.
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.
The government has been promising a ban since 2018
A commitment to banning it was first made by Theresa May’s administration in 2018, with the exact form the legislation will take being the subject of intense debate in the UK since then.
The draft bill is, however, said to cover attempts to change both someone’s sexuality and gender identity – though campaigners remain concerned that the ‘consent’ loophole makes the legislation redundant.