Prince Charles confirmed plans to ban ‘conversion therapy’ during the Queen’s Speech, though did not clarify who the legislation will protect.
He delivered the message on her behalf for the first time after the 96-year-old had to drop out because of mobility problems.
Each year, the Queen gives a speech that sets out the programme of legislation expected to be pursued in the forthcoming parliamentary session by the government.
She first mentioned a ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in her 2021 speech, though a year later the government has made U-turn after U-turn on its plans – resulting in an intention to ban the harmful practice for LGB people, but not trans.
“Legislation will also be introduced to ban ‘conversion therapy’,” Prince Charles confirmed during the speech on 10 May.
Although this clarifies that a ban of the practice is still on the government’s agenda, whether or not its stance has shifted remains unclear as he did not specify whether or not all LGBTQ+ people will be covered by the law.
‘Conversion therapy’ is typically defined as any attempt at changing a person’s sexuality or gender identity, often involving techniques such as electroshock therapy or prayer.
It has been widely condemned by health experts all over the world, with some comparing it to torture.
Among these are the National Health Service, World Health Organisation, World Psychiatric Association and the United Nations.
A commitment to banning it was first made by Theresa May’s administration in 2018, though is yet to actually happen.
— Ozanne Foundation (@OzanneFoundn) May 10, 2022
“The government’s own research shows that trans people are twice as likely to be offered ‘conversion therapy’ and it is utterly immoral that they have purposefully omitted them from the ban,” said Jayne Ozanne, chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition. “The government’s duty is to protect the most vulnerable from abuse, not to side with the abusers. By creating a loophole of consent, the government continues to ignore the advice of legal experts and survivors like myself, who know that this will continue to put many lives at risk.”
Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, criticised the government for “flip-flopping” and said ‘conversion therapy’ should be banned “in all its forms”.
Speaking on 6 April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated the decision the exclude the transgender community from the ‘conversion therapy’ ban was done to consider the “complexities and sensitivities” of the issue, Sky News reported.
He stated that the move would not “diminish our determination to tackle prejudice wherever we can”.