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Banning Conversion Therapy: City MP responds

In recent days a number of constituents have contacted me about their views on conversion therapy.

I am deeply concerned about the Government’s broken promises on this and similar issues and have long been a supporter of banning conversion therapy.

I am committed to ensuring LGBT+ people can live in safety and dignity. I believe all forms of conversion therapy must be banned as a matter of urgency. They are exploitative and damaging.

Last year, I wrote to the Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss MP, urging her to ensure a ban on conversion therapy.

I underlined that if we must eradicate this insidious form of homophobic, bi-phobic, transphobic and acephobic abuse, we need a legislative ban to make conversion therapy illegal.

What we saw last week was the actions of a rudderless government. First we saw the government u-turn on its promise to ban conversion therapy. Then hours later, it said it would, but not for transgender conversion therapies. Now, the government’s LGBT+ business champion has resigned over the decision not to ban conversion therapy for transgender people.

But while it is expected the government will announce a ban on gay conversion therapy in the Queen’s Speech, there will not be one for trans conversion therapy.

This is not only wholly unacceptable, but government has offered no clear explanation for why it’s gone back on its original position. It is yet another betrayal by Ministers of an already marginalised group that they have left behind.

However, I am also very concerned that it has already taken more than three years to even get to this point, and unfortunately the proposals are far from comprehensive.

Loopholes appear to leave the door ajar for people to ‘consent’ to conversion therapy on religious grounds. This is unacceptable. Government must divert its energies to listening to survivors of these harmful practices and the wider LGBT+ community, not those wishing to allow conversion therapy to continue.

I believe that it is high time that legislation is introduced, such as protection orders for people who are vulnerable to pressure to suppress, deny or forcibly change their sexuality or gender identity.

There is a broad consensus from faith leaders across the diversity of faith communities in the UK that conversion therapy is abuse and in December 2020, a significant cross-faith conference of leaders supported a ban on conversion therapy.

I am aware that the Government is seeking to launch a phone helpline for victims of conversion therapy. However, overall the Government has made very slow progress. For instance, it is still yet to confirm whether it will be going ahead with its LGBT Action Plan.

Please be assured that I will continue to do what I can to hold the Government to account on its commitments and to ensure the LGBT+ community can live their lives with equality, dignity and respect.

Stephen Morgan MP