Launching a six-week consultation, the Minister for Women and Equality aims to introduce restrictions by May 2022
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE VIA LIZ TRUSS ON INSTAGRAM
Today, Minister for Women and Equality Liz Truss has announced a commitment by the UK Government to restrictions on conversion therapy. The new proposals will introduce a ban on all forms of conversion therapy in England and Wales for under 18s alongside vulnerable adults unable to consent.
Under current UK law, conversion therapy practices remain legal: Ban Conversion Therapy reports that 7% of LGBTQI people in the UK have been offered or have undergone conversion therapy in either a medical or religious setting.
Launching a six-week consultation, Liz Truss remarked: “There should be no place for the abhorrent practice of coercive conversion therapy in our society. Today we are publishing detailed proposals that will stop appalling conversion therapies and make sure LGBT people can live their lives free from the threat of harm or abuse”.
“I want everyone to be able to love who they want and be themselves. Today’s announcement sets out how we will ban an archaic practice that has no place in modern life”, she concluded. After the consultation, Truss will make a final decision regarding the amendments with a new bill set for release next spring. It aims to introduce the restrictions into UK law by May 2022.
Despite these advances, these commitments shy away from a complete ban on conversion therapy, arguing that consenting adults should be permitted to undergo these practices. The Government Equalities Office stated: “We recognise there is a plurality of experience in this area and that there are adults who seek counselling to help them live a life that they feel is more in line with their personal beliefs”. It concluded: “We do not intend to ban adults from seeking such counselling freely, but consent requirements will be robust and stringent”.
Stonewall reports that one in 20 LGBTQI people, equating to 5%, have been “pressured to access services to question or change their sexual orientation when accessing healthcare services”. This statistic rises to 9% amidst LGBTQI people aged between 18 and 24, 9% amidst Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBTQI people and 8% amidst LGBTQI people with a disability.
Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive of Stonewall, remarks: “The UK Government’s proposals to ban conversion therapy are a huge step forward to consign this practice to the history books. As the proposals set out, conversion therapy is coercive and abhorrent, and does not work. You cannot change an LGBTQIA+ person from being who they are, and to try to do so causes lasting damage.
“These are robust proposals that will ban conversion therapies in all types of setting, to ban its advertising and promotion, and introduce protection orders for victims. Stonewall, alongside many other organisations, activists and our supporters, has campaigned for years for a ban, and the strength of these proposals is testament to the impact we have collectively had in that time.
“However, there are still concerning gaps that the UK Government must close, including on prayer and statutory support for victims. We also can’t support that the proposals allow for people to “consent” to conversion therapy – a practice that is abusive cannot be consented to. If we are to truly put this shameful practice behind us, the ban must not allow for any excuses or any exemptions”, she concludes.
Want to support the fight for a complete ban on conversion therapy in the UK? Show your support through the Ban Conversion Therapy website.
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