Social media giant Instagram has revealed plans to block organisations from promoting ‘conversion therapy’ services on their platform.
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.
In 2018, the UK’s then-prime minster Theresa May said it was a priority to “end the practice of conversion therapy” as part of a 75-point plan to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people across the country.
“No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love. [The plan will] set out concrete steps to deliver real and lasting change across society,” May said at the time.
However, two years later and the UK Government has done nothing to outlaw the practice, but instead decided that another survey to debate the issue was necessary.
Instagram are taking matters into their own hands and have confirmed to the BBC that they will block any promotion of ‘conversion therapy’ on their platform.
“We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services,” Tara Hopkins, EMEA public policy director, Instagram told BBC News.
“We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach.”
Instagram added that it will take some time to roll out the policy across its platform, so while all content promoting ‘conversion therapy’ won’t immediately be removed, over time it will be blocked.
More than 207,000 people have signed a petition in the UK calling for ‘conversion therapy’ to be made illegal.
The petition – started by Mahed Asad – received a response from the government, but has yet to be discussed more broadly.
“The Government is committed to ensuring all citizens feel safe and protected from harm,” the statement read. “We will work to deepen our understanding and consider all options for ending the practice of conversion therapy.”