Queen’s Speech: Conversion therapy “ban” does not go far enough

This Morning, Charles, Prince of Wales delivered the Queen’s Speech.

Among the many measures to be introduced by the Conservative government is a bill  to ban conversion therapy, referring to the immoral pseudoscientific practice of trying to change a person’s sexuality from homosexuality or bisexuality to heterosexuality, or trying to change a person’s gender identity from transgender or non-binary to cisgender.

There is one main issue with this pledge, however; the government has already failed to ban gender conversion therapy, and fully ban gay and bisexual conversion therapy.

The Conservatives have faced controversy on this issue previously, reneging on their promise to ban LGBT+ conversion therapy. Resulting in pushback across the political spectrum, including members of their party, the government u-turned and promised to ban gay conversion therapy – making a point of NOT banning gender conversion therapy.

Despite further backlash to include trans and non-binary people within their legislated ban, once again from members of their party – including their LGBT+ and One Nation Conservative wings – this government has decided to continue their attack upon the trans and non-binary communities by refusing to do so, with Justice Secretary Dominic Raab defending the decision: “we should be able to discuss these sensitive issues with mutual tolerance”.

The issue with Raab’s statement is that “mutual tolerance” is missing from the government’s legislation. There is nothing mutual or tolerant about conversion therapy. It is the outright denial of identity as if a trans person or non-binary person is confused and must be forcibly changed to conform with society, rather than allowing them to live their lives as individuals.

And as I stated above, the “ban” on gay and bisexual conversion therapy isn’t even a full ban. The legislation itself “protects under-18s, regardless of circumstance, and over-18s who do not consent and who are coerced or forced to undergo conversion therapy practice”. The issue, however, is this: how does the government determine between a “consenting adult” and a coerced gay or bisexual person? The answer – you cannot consent to conversion therapy. The government has left this loophole in, which allows for gay and bisexual people to be exploited and abused in the name of “therapy”.

The Conservatives have, yet again, thrown the LGBT+ community under the bus. Despite Charles, Prince of Wales reading aloud the pledge to ban conversion therapy, this is anything but.

It is why I want to end with a request – please support the “Ban Conversion Therapy” campaign group, that are seeking to lobby the government to implement a full ban on the horrid practice.

* Jack Meredith is a Welsh Liberal Democrat member.

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  • Martin Eggleston 11th May '22 - 9:06am

    As admirable as the sentiments expressed are, the author fails to note that for some people, particularly homophobic parents say, changing gender is a form of gay conversion therapy – “better a straight daughter than a gay son” as it were.

    It also fails to consider people who may simply be confused about aspects of their sexuality or gender identity.

    Here there is a huge difference. If you mistakenly think you are gay (or, indeed, you are straight) generally the worst long term consequence is some cringey memories of bad dates.

    Whereas gender identity decisions can involve powerful drugs with life-long consequences, castration or double mastectomy, and loss of sexual function. Very, very different.

  • Ruth Bright 11th May '22 - 9:17am

    Jack the trouble is that some extremely unpleasant conversion movements are linked to “churches” in other countries where homosexuality is ilegal. Representatives of such a “church” came to my door in 2019 and when I challenged them their line was “Gays come [to us] we change them”.

    These “churches” operate with impunity and hide behind charity status certainly in parts of the Southampton area and South London where they target young people, vulnerable people and people from African backgrounds. Paul Brand of ITV News had been one of the few journalists with the guts to cover this horrible phenomenon.

  • I think the worry is that parents, teachers, medical providers will be criminalised if they don’t whole heartedly affirm the stated desire of a person to transition,

    When a person transitions then it involves extensive invasive medical treatment and may result iife-long changes and infertility.

    Therefore it is important that the person is challenged, in a constructive way, by parents, teachers and medical providers, to make sure that they are 100% sure that they want to transition and the risks and effects on their body.

    The fear is that a ban on conversion therapy will be interpreted widely to criminalise this.

    Until campaigners can 100% reassure politicians and parents that their necessary challenging of person who wishes to transition will not be criminalised then the prospect of Trans conversion therapy being implemented are zero.

  • Just to be clear, are you saying that for example, someone over 18 who was unhappy about being gay and went to a priest entirely of their own accord to talk about it and the priest said a prayer with them to try (it would not be successful obviously) to help them become hetero- sexual, the priest would be committing a criminal offence ?

  • We seem to be going round the same circles again. Just to be absolutely clear, Lib Dems would never prevent anyone from accessing professional therapy, family advice or prayer. Indeed, neutral professional therapy should always be made available (though not forced) to anyone who is considering gender reassignment. This would be an open exploration of the options and could result in the person choosing to progress as trans or choosing to stay as they are.

    What we oppose is the kind of non-professional intervention (I don’t like calling it “therapy”) which starts with a pre-determined objective of changing the person’s orientation or identity, whether they want to or not.


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