Five years since the UK government first promised to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’, dozens of LGBTQ+ organisations, survivors and support providers are calling on it to finally make its pledge a reality.

Among them are Stonewall, the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, Galop, Pride in London and Tonic Housing.

In a joint letter sent to the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Kemi Badenoch, and Minister for Equalities, Stuart Andrew, the coalition urged the government to “publish the long-awaited legislation to ban conversion practices for all LGBTQ+ people in the UK”.

On 17 January, a spokesperson for the government said a draft bill would soon be published before going through “pre legislative scrutiny in this parliamentary session” – though this is yet to happen.

“We have been given repeated assurances that your Government is working ‘at pace’ to bring forward this legislation, but we still have not seen a draft Bill,” the letter continued. “It has been an exceptionally long road, with unexplained delays in both the publication of the Government’s research as well as the results from your public consultation.”

READ MORE: MPs call on government to protect trans people in heated ‘conversion therapy’ ban debate

The signatories added that the delays “only serve to embolden perpetrators and result in ongoing harm to many LGBT+ people”.

“We are perplexed by these continued delays and can only conclude that your Government is reluctant to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society from this abuse,” part of the letter said.

‘Conversion therapy’ is typically defined as any attempt at changing or suppressing a person’s sexuality or gender identity, often involving techniques such as electroshock therapy or prayer.

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.

Exact details of the government’s proposed ‘conversion therapy’ ban are yet to be announced beyond the promise it will protect “everyone”.

READ MORE: UK government finally announces draft bill to ban ‘conversion therapy’ for all

Whether or not it will be fully comprehensive or include any loopholes (religious or otherwise) that allow these practices to continue in the UK is yet to be determined.

“Time is now running perilously short for this legislation to be passed before the end of the fourth session, particularly given your desire for pre-legislative scrutiny,” the letter continued. “Whilst we agree this important legislation requires careful scrutiny, we would suggest that the sooner this Bill comes before Parliament, the longer both Houses will have to carefully consider and debate it.”

93% of LGBTQ+ people want ‘conversion therapy’ banned for all

A commitment to banning ‘conversion therapy’ was first made by Theresa May’s administration in 2018, though is yet to be implemented in the UK.

Banning the harmful practice is supported by the vast majority of LGBTQ+ people, a joint survey from GAY TIMES and Channel 4 News found last year.

Respondents were asked to rank certain issues affecting the community, with 92.6% stating that a full ban is ‘very important’ to them, 4.6% viewing it as of ‘average importance’ and only 2.8% believing it to be ‘not important’.

READ MORE: 93% of LGBTQ+ people want ‘conversion therapy’ banned for all

Speaking to GAY TIMES, Jayne Ozanne, Chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, said: “The LGBTQ+ people in this country urgently need a robust ban on harmful conversion practices – we have waited long enough! There can be no more excuses nor delays, what we need is a clear timetable that will finally give us the protections we have been calling for.”

“We urge all our supporters to write to their MPs to demand concrete action is finally taken on this issue. Let’s work together to safeguard the LGBTQ+ community and end these barbaric practices once and for all. No more ifs, no more buts and certainly no more loopholes. Far too many lives have already been ruined – we cannot afford to drag this out any longer!”