The UK government has announced plans to extend its consultation on banning conversion therapy by eight weeks.

According to a statement released by the government on 9 December, the move has been taken to ensure the legislation can be shaped appropriately and to take as wide a range of views as possible into consideration.

“We are absolutely determined to stamp out conversion therapy, and want to hear all views on the best ways to do that,” said Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss.

“The consultation on our proposals has been extended by eight weeks, to ensure anyone who has not yet responded has the opportunity to do so.”

Theresa May’s government first committed to a ban on conversion therapy in 2018, though this is yet to be delivered.

The current consultation is unlikely to result in a comprehensive ban on the practice, as a statement from the government stated that its goal is to make it a criminal offence to carry out conversion therapy on someone under the age of 18 under any circumstance, as well as those older than this who did not give their informed consent.

There are also plans to produce a package of measures and support for victims, which is likely to include limiting the promotion of it and removing profit streams.

Truss continued: “We are absolutely committed to a ban which will make sure LGBT people can live their lives free from the threat of harm or abuse, whilst protecting free speech as well as protecting under-18s from being channelled into a irreversible decisions about their future.”

The consultation will now draw to a close on 4 February 2022 after concerns were raised that the initial six-week-long period would not be enough.

Minister for Equalities Mike Freer said: “The focus for the ban will be on those who actively seek to change someone’s sexuality or transgender status, with protection for young people a particular priority.

“We have already consulted extensively with faith leaders, clinicians, LGBT stakeholders, and other stakeholder groups, and I am confident that our proposals strike the correct balance to stamp out coercive conversion therapy, whilst protecting free speech.”

Nancy Kelley, CEO at Stonewall, said “the UK is already lagging” behind other countries that have moved ahead with a ban on the practice.

She added: “This consultation should have been accessible from the beginning so it is important that the UK Government is fixing its mistake by providing an easy read version. 

“Across the globe, there has been urgent action taken by Governments to ban this abhorrent practice, and the UK is already lagging behind on the global stage. 

“Any potential delay to this ban will leave more LGBTQ+ people at risk of lifelong harm. 

“Now the UK Government must make clear that this necessary extension will not delay their plans to bring forward a bill in Spring 2022.”

You can respond to the consultation anytime between now and 4 February 2022 online by clicking here.

An Easy Read version of the document has also been released, which can be found by clicking here.