The government has postponed its consultation on banning conversion therapy from September until late October.
The consultation was announced during the Queen’s Speech in May of this year.
It was initially praised by LGBTQ+ activists, with many hoping it was the beginning of the practice finally being banned in the UK.
At the time, Minister for Women & Equalities, Liz Truss, said: “As a global leader on LGBT rights, this government has always been committed to stamping out the practice of conversion therapy.
“We want to make sure that people in this country are protected, and these proposals mean nobody will be subjected to coercive and abhorrent conversion therapy.”
However, the government is now facing backlash from the LGBTQ+ community and activists alike for announcing the delay.
Downing Street said the discussions were fundamental prior to issuing a ban so that it is “proportionate, effective and does not have unintended consequences”.
A spokesperson added that any conversion therapy restrictions would be implemented in a way that would safeguard medical professionals and religious leaders, as well as protecting people from harm.
Chief executive of Stonewall, Nancy Kelley, called the delay “deeply disappointing”.
“It is deeply disappointing that the Government has delayed its plans to ban conversion therapy,” she said.
“While this barbaric practice is legal, LGBTQ+ people remain at risk of abuse and harm.
“We urge the Government to set a new deadline for the public consultation as soon as possible, as part of their commitment to a ban.”
The goal of conversion therapy is to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity and takes many forms across the world.
Theresa May’s government committed to ending the practice in 2018, though Boris Johnson’s opted for a public consultation on what a ban would look like before implementing one.
“What is needed is a far greater sense of urgency and a commitment to a timetable that will reassure us that legislation will soon be passed,” Jayne Ozanne, a campaigner and conversion therapy survivor, told the BBC.
A report into how people have been impacted by the practice was reportedly given to ministers in December 2020, with its findings expected to be released when the consultation takes place.
“As soon as parliamentary time allows, and following a consultation, the ban will be introduced in parliamentary legislation,” the government’s website says of its plans.
“The accompanying consultation will seek further views from the public and key stakeholders to ensure that the ban can address the practice while protecting the medical profession; defending freedom of speech; and upholding religious freedom.”
Conversion therapy isn’t a thing of the past.
It’s still being carried out in many countries – and can take many forms, from ‘talking therapy’ to electric shocks.@Openly shares how it continues to harm the LGBTQ+ community. #BanConversionTherapy https://t.co/HaXMXOEJ6R
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) September 16, 2021