I am committed to ensuring LGBT+ people can live in safety and dignity. I completely agree that LGBT+ conversion therapies must be banned as a matter of urgency. They are exploitative, damaging, and have no place in modern society.
It is deeply concerning that the Ozanne Foundation’s 2018 Faith & Sexuality Survey found that over 58% of people who had experienced attempts to change their sexual orientation had suffered from mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Likewise, its 2020 ‘Conversion Therapy’ and Gender Identity Survey found that over 92% of people who had experienced attempts to change their gender identity had suffered from mental health issues.
In July 2018, the UK Government committed to bringing forward proposals to end conversion therapy in the UK. I am deeply disappointed that, three years later, we are still waiting and there are no excuses for further delays. I am aware that both the Welsh and Scottish Governments are currently considering or taking action to explore what can be done within the devolved nations regarding a ban on conversion therapies.
In March 2021, three advisors quit their roles on the UK Government’s LGBT advisory panel, with the first, Jayne Ozanne, accusing Ministers of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT+ people. The UK Government has now said that it will launch a consultation on its conversion therapy proposals in September. I am deeply concerned that meanwhile, LGBT+ people are experiencing harms from conversion therapies every day.
There is broad consensus from faith leaders across the diversity of our faith communities in the UK that conversion therapy is abuse. In December 2020, a significant cross-faith conference of hundreds of religious leaders from all around the world supported a ban on conversion therapy.
I believe we must introduce legislation, such as protection orders, for people who are vulnerable to pressure to suppress, deny or forcibly change their sexuality or gender identity. Crucially, introducing legislation to ban conversion therapy would allow statutory services to work together to support people in need.
More widely, I welcome that Instagram and Facebook have blocked the promotion of conversion therapy on their sites, and I hope other social media companies will follow suit.
I have written to the Secretary of State to find out why the decision to ban conversion therapy has been halted and when this vital legislation will be implemented. Please see the copy of this letter below: