Tag Archives: conversion therapy

LIb Dem Lords speak out on conversion therapy

Last week, Lorely Burt’s private members bill aimed at outlawing conversion therapy practices passed its first stage in the House of Lords.

This post highlights the speeches in support of the Bill made by Lib Dem peers, but there were many others made by people like Ruth Hunt, Michael Cashman and Helena Kennedy which are worth reading.

This post is a long one, but it is worth reading to understand why this measure is necessary.

Lorely explained in her opening remarks that conversion therapy s:

any practice with the predetermined purpose of changing or suppressing a person’s expression of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Conversion therapy is barbaric, cruel and harmful.

Listening to the debate, I felt I was back in the 80s and 90s. I remember then being chilled to the bone when I heard prejudice against gay people. That still exists, but the real venom these days is directed at trans people. And it’s quite interesting that some of the opposition now comes from the same people who opposed any liberalisation for gay people then. Our job as liberals is to protect these vulnerable groups from that prejudice, discrimination and from the cruelty of those who try to convince them that it is wrong or them to be who they are.

Here are some of the highlights of Lib Dem members’ contributions. You can read the whole debate here.

“My Bill will not tell people what to think or what to say” – Lorely Burt

There are many people—particularly young people—who may be wondering about themselves. It is not always straightforward to understand your sexuality or gender identity, and grappling with these topics can be confusing and even distressing. What these people need is not a cure, but space—and support—to work things out. This may take the form of speaking with a trusted adult, like a mentor or counsellor, to explore their own feelings in a non-judgmental way.

However, the difference between that and conversion therapy is that the latter has a predetermined goal to change that person. I want to make it clear: my Bill will not criminalise these sorts of open conversations in any way, nor will it tell people what to think or what to say. Freedom of speech and religious freedom are important cornerstones of any liberal society. As a Liberal Democrat, I have always championed these values, and the last thing I would want to do is to unduly curb anybody else’s rights. Noble Lords are free to say what they believe: the rules on free speech are the same here as anywhere else in British law. Noble Lords are entitled to express an opinion, just not to coerce somebody else into agreeing with them and changing their behaviour as a result.

“Hold that child safe until they find their own way forward without bias, prejudice and pre conceived rights and wrongs” – Lynne Featherstone

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5-9 February: this week in the Lords

I had rather expected that this would be a short week – the Lords usually goes into recess for just over a week, covering Valentines Day, most years. But not this year, it seems…

The Committee Stages of the Victims and Prisoners Bill (day 3) and the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill (day 5) are the main business on Monday, whilst the Restoration and Renewal Client Board is holding a private meeting in Portcullis House (another building with its own maintenance issues).

You might already have guessed that there’s a lot of legislation grinding through the Lords at the moment, and Tuesday sees the Third Reading of the Pedicabs (London) Bill and the Report Stage of the Automated Vehicles Bill. But the most interesting piece of business for the day is the moving of the draft Electoral Commission Strategy and Policy Statement. Labour have a Motion of Regret down in the name of Lord Khan of Burnley, and given the concerns raised by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, I suspect that we will need significant reassurance before it is safe to believe that the Conservatives aren’t about to remove another of the significant guardrails that protect our democracy.

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20 November 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Sunak removes NHS from top 5 pledges
  • Ethics advisor must investigate David Cameron’s appointment
  • Lib Dem Peer’s Bill to end conversion therapy

Sunak removes NHS from top 5 pledges

Responding to Rishi Sunak’s speech this morning, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

By officially de-prioritising the NHS and omitting it from his top 5 priorities, Rishi Sunak has shown yet again just how out of touch he is.

The Prime Minister clearly doesn’t care about the millions of people across the country on hospital waiting lists or the families and pensioners struggling to get appointments with a GP or dentist.

Shockingly, the Prime Minister doesn’t even understand the link between a better health service and a stronger economy.

Any strategy for economic growth must have a strategy for better healthcare, yet the Conservatives clearly don’t understand that.

Ethics advisor must investigate David Cameron’s appointment

The Liberal Democrats have written to Rishi Sunak’s ethics adviser, calling on him to launch an investigation into David Cameron’s appointment as Foreign Secretary.

It comes as Cameron is set to officially take up his peerage in the House of Lords today.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain has raised five key questions in a letter to the ethics adviser Laurie Magnus. These include whether David Cameron will be publishing a full list of ministerial interests as soon as he is appointed, and if he will be placing his investments into a blind trust to prevent conflicts of interest. Currently it is expected that David Cameron won’t have to publish his register of interests until January.

Failure to prevent any conflicts of interests would risk breaching the ministerial code, which requires ministers to be transparent about their private financial interests to avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interest.

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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.

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Church leaders join to oppose trans conversion therapy in a beautifully written letter

The letter below was sent by a number of prominent Church leaders to the Prime Minister.

It may not be immediately obvious to all readers that the signatories represent a wide range of viewpoints and theology with the broader Christian church, but they have united around this one theme.

Whether you have a faith or not, I think we must all agree that the letter is beautifully written, and expressed with great humanity.

To be trans is to enter a sacred journey of becoming whole: precious, honoured and loved, by yourself, by others and by God.

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4 April 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Conservative MPs must rediscover their moral compass and get rid of the PM
  • Conversion Therapy: Chaotic u-turns shredding UK’s reputation
  • Channel 4 privatisation is “trashing a uniquely British legacy”

Conservative MPs must rediscover their moral compass and get rid of the PM

Responding to government minister Simon Hart’s comments this morning that “the world has moved on” from partygate, Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine MP said:

These comments are an insult to every family that suffered in lockdown while Downing Street partied.

Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have got something else coming if they think the public has moved on from this shameful scandal.

Boris Johnson broke the rules he asked us all to obey then repeatedly lied about it. Conservative MPs must rediscover their moral compass and get rid of him.

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LGBT+ Allies need to step up

On March 31 2022, Boris Johnson announced he was U-turning on the government’s pledge to ban conversion “therapy”; a form of abuse that seeks to undermine someone’s gender and/or sexual identity, and gaslight them into believing how they view themselves is wrong and must be “corrected”.

Due to backlash from politicians across the House; including a number of Tory MPs, and LGBT+ pressure groups Johnson acquiesced – to a point. He has promised to uphold the ban on gay and bisexual conversion therapy but has failed to do the same regarding trans conversion therapy. What has been made very clear is that the LGBT+ community is viewed as nothing more than a vehicle to gain votes for Boris Johnson. The way he is willing to make such rash, disgusting decisions that compromise the rights and safety of individuals serve to highlight that now, more than ever, LGBT+ allies need to rally around the community and bolster our support.

We cannot expect trans people to shoulder the burden of standing against societal, and now state-sanctioned oppression alone. If we want to see real change, we must create platforms that amplify trans voices. We need to contact MPs, MSPs, MSs, MLAs, Councillors, Mayors, anyone and everyone that is integral to our political system and encourage them to speak up against such prejudice. We must listen, not to respond, but to understand and learn from trans people, the negative experiences they face and what we can do to mitigate them. It is our moral responsibility to defend and uphold the individual freedoms of all people – a responsibility that our government has abandoned.

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Government U-turns on gay conversion therapy, but still allows it for trans people

Yesterday we acknowledged the Transgender Day of Visibility with a post that highlighted comments from a number of Liberal Democrats.

In that post we mentioned that the Government had decided not to ban conversion therapy, to much consternation.

Amazingly, overnight the Government has U-turned again and is now planning to bring forward legislation to ban conversion therapy in the next Queen’s speech. But – and a very big but – the ban will not cover trans people.

On the one hand it is pleasing that gay conversion therapy will at last be outlawed. But it is deeply disappointing that trans conversion therapy will still be allowed.

Now we should start by saying that counselling and psychotherapy should, of course, be made available to all people who are considering transitioning. It is a complex and difficult journey to take, and many will be helped to understand themselves better through professional help. But the key here is “professional” – someone who is fully trained and recognised by their professional bodies. Such people do not approach sessions with any preconceived notions about what the outcome should be for their client, except that they should emerge with a clearer understanding of themselves.

Conversion therapy is different. Last year many professional bodies, including the NHS, signed the updated Memorandum of understanding on conversion therapy in the UK. It states:

Conversion therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

The 2017 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) makes it clear that conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation (including asexuality) is unethical, potentially harmful and is not supported by evidence. It updates the 2015 version released at the Department of Health, which focused exclusively on sexual orientation.

It is truly shameful that the Government now wants to allow the practice to continue for trans people.

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