Lib Dems call for immediate ban on conversion therapy in all forms

The Liberal Democrats have called for a total ban of conversion therapy in the UK, with no exemptions for religious practices.

The party also wants to see a criminal ban on referrals, transportation of minors overseas, and advertising and promotion of any conversion practices as well as a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of conversion therapy.

The call comes in the same year as the Government have met with the Evangelical Alliance who advocate religious exemptions for gay conversion therapy and LGB Alliance who argue that affirming a child as trans is a form of conversion therapy, whilst failing to honour their promise to ban the practice.

Liberal Democrat Equalities spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

Gay conversion therapy has no place in our society. The last three Conservative Prime Ministers have each promised to ban it, but still we have seen no action to live up to this promise.

Let’s be clear – conversion therapy is a form of torture. Why should we allow religious organisations free reign to induce or pressure people into undertaking this dangerous practice? We should be teaching people to embrace who they are, not try and be something they’re not.

It’s shameful that in the same year as Alan Turing, who was chemically castrated for loving another man, takes his place on our £50 note we still allow organisations and individuals to try and ‘cure’ people.

Liberal Democrats will not stand for this injustice. We are calling for an immediate ban on conversion practices in all forms, with no exemptions. The Government must honour their commitment to the LGBT+ community and act now.

The conference motion

The motion calls for:

  • The banning of conversion practices in all forms – this should include the following:
    • A criminal ban on all forms of conversion therapy; including those claiming to be psychiatric, psychological, therapeutic, or consultative; or a religious practice such as a prayer or exorcism; or any other medical, scientific, or cultural activity seeking to suppress or change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • A criminal ban on referrals, transportation of minors overseas, and advertising and promotion, for any of the above.
    • No exemption for religious and faith-based organisations for any of the above.
  • A campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of conversion therapy among vulnerable people and in social environments where conversion therapy is most likely to be promoted.

Lib Dem elected representatives to work to ensure that all LGBT+ people are able to live in freedom, authenticity, and safety.

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15 Comments

  • I assume, for reasons of consistency the LibDems are also vocally opposing the Tavistock and Portman NHS trusts appeal which if successful would permit it to resume legalised child abuse.

  • Brad Barrows 17th Sep '21 - 6:31pm

    So the Liberal Democrats now support criminalising people who dare to pray for someone who requests it if the issue they request prayer for is related to them not wanting to feel a gender identity that is different from their biological sex. Scary.

  • LGB Alliance is not advocating for religious exemptions for conversion therapy. They object to the conflation of sexual orientation with gender identity and the affirmation-only approach to the latter. Is the misrepresentation deliberate?

  • Matt (Bristol) 17th Sep '21 - 11:55pm

    I’m aware the LGB Alliance have raised their opposition to a specific definition of conversion therapy – and I’m aware many Lib Dem activists feel their stance is therefore transphobic. But I wasn’t aware that they have campaigned for religious exemptions. Could you show us where they have done so?

  • They haven’t Matt. The press release is inaccurate.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th Sep '21 - 8:31am

    I have amended the article to include the LGB Alliance’s ridiculous and disturbing claim, taken from their website, that affirming a trans young person’s gender identity is a form of conversion therapy and that they would otherwise grow up to be lesbian or gay. Thus erasing the trans people who are in lesbian or gay relationships.

    They want to end conversion therapy for lesbian, gay and bisexual people but are quite happy to torture trans children rather than give them the support they need. Utterly awful.

  • Nigel Orchard 18th Sep '21 - 9:35am

    My Reference Back was ignored, not sure what the technical problems were. It read “Protection from abuse and coercion is essential and Conference supports banning dangerous therapies. Some argue the ban should outlaw prayer and bible study, but the criminalisation of harmless, mainstream religious practices is the antithesis of liberalism and breaches international human rights.

    Little work has been done defining conversion therapy; Conference calls on Government to work with a wide range of stakeholders to find a clear, scientific and human rights-compliant definition of what should be outlawed “

  • Whilst supporting the motion I did originally have some concerns about the reference to prayer. But I was assured by the proposers who pointed out that the motion calls for:

    A criminal ban on all forms of conversion therapy; including those claiming to be psychiatric, psychological, therapeutic, or consultative; or a religious practice such as a prayer or exorcism; or any other medical, scientific, or cultural activity seeking to suppress or change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

    My emphasis. It is asking to ban ANY practice which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation etc. It does not ban any form of therapy (including prayer) that supports a person as they work through their sexuality or gender identity.

  • Matt Campbell 18th Sep '21 - 1:42pm

    Caron, I recognise your rejection of the LGB Alliance stance, but unless you or the party have evidence that the LGB Alliance is campaigning for religious exemptions with regard to conversion therapy, can this phrase be removed or clarified? The party’s press release elides together the EA and LGB Alliance and implies they are working together. This doesn’t seem to be the case.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th Sep '21 - 2:11pm

    Matt I changed the wording earlier. I have just changed it again to make it even clearer.

  • Where does this put psychiatric, psychological, therapeutic and consultative treatment of children presenting wih gender dysphoria? Is all exploration of such a child’s condition criminalised, leaving only affirmation? This would be very troubling when studies show 80% of children desist as adults.

  • Denis Mollison 20th Sep '21 - 9:23pm

    @Caron – how do you justify your accusation that LGB Alliance `are quite happy to torture trans children rather than give them the support they need’? That’s not how I interpret their page on conversion therapy.
    Their second bullet point on that page clearly states: `We oppose any coercive or manipulative attempts to change or “cure” a person’s sexual orientation.’

    I also very much support their call for a clear definition of what conversion therapy is. As they say, `We must avoid any situation where professionals are unable to conduct ethical, neutral therapy, with patients presenting with issues surrounding sexual orientation or gender identity, for fear of being accused of conversion therapy’. Lack of a clear definition is an obvious defect in the motion we have just passed, as is its lack of clarity as to what exactly we are trying to criminalise.

  • “The government should not add “gender identity” to sexual orientation in any legislation on conversion therapy. ”

    Their words.

    https://lgballiance. org.uk/ 2021/03/31/letter-to-mps/

    I’ve deliberately made the link unclickable because I don’t think it is a good idea to link to hate groups.

    And for Roland’s benefit I supported the Tavi court of appeal action. Which overwhelmingly overturned the previous decision and reaffirmed the principle of Gillick competence.

  • Denis Mollison 21st Sep '21 - 7:28am

    @Hywel
    Please can we stop calling views we disagree with “hate”, compounded in this case by making it more difficult for readers to look for themselves to see whether the charge is justified. This is thoroughly illiberal.

  • @Hywel – It is a difficult area, however, fundamentally, what the Tavi offers is conversion therapy, just a variant that reinforces a person’s perception of their body image.

    I’ve not followed the case closely enough to have seen the arguments concerning the Gillick Competence and Fraser Guidelines. However, I’m very wary of medical procedures that claim to address mental health issues through surgery; it wasn’t that long ago Doctors thought ECT and lobotomy’s were suitable treatments for a wide range of mental health problems…

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