KATE OSBORNE: No need to delay the pledge to outlaw conversion therapy

In Parliament yesterday, I asked the Minister for Women and Equalities for further clarity on the Government’s pledge to outlaw conversion therapy.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 12:00 am
It is not a threat to religious freedom to criminalise conversion therapy in law but is a threat to LGBT+ communities to allow the practice of conversion therapy to continue under the guise of religious freedom.

In Parliament yesterday, I asked the Minister for Women and Equalities for further clarity on the Government’s pledge to outlaw conversion therapy.

So-called conversion therapy is a truly abhorrent practice that has already damaged the lives of far too many LGBT people across our community.

Three years since the Prime Minister pledged to ban conversion therapy in the 2018 LGBT Action Plan, the Government finally announced in the recent Queen’s Speech that they intend to table a Bill to ban so-called conversion therapy, although after a period of consultation.

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The Government is obligated to ensure that no LGBT+ person should be made to feel their sexual or gender identity is wrong.

The Government must legislate this ban fully to ensure there are no loopholes or exemptions that allow conversion therapy to continue in religious settings. Further consultations will do nothing but delay the ban of this dehumanising and disgraceful practice.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religious Belief stated clearly that “banning such discredited, ineffective, and unsafe practices that misguidedly try to change or suppress people’s sexual orientation and gender is not a violation of the right to freedom of religion or belief under international law.”

Without a full ban of conversion therapy, including in religious institutions, the abusive practice will be able to continue. This is unacceptable. The Government must ensure that the ban is far reaching to ensure a complete end to conversion therapy.

There can be no possibility of a loophole in the ban of conversion therapy; it must legislate against every method of conversion, from corrective rape to praying with the purpose of changing the sexual or gender identity of a person.

The ban must not allow religious practices, including prayer-based practice, deliverance practice or an exorcism to continue with the intention of changing a person’s sexual or gender identity. It is not a threat to religious freedom to criminalise conversion therapy in law but is a threat to LGBT+ communities to allow the practice of conversion therapy to continue under the guise of religious freedom.

The Government is under a legal obligation to ban the dehumanising practice of conversion therapy. All forms of the practice amount to a degrading treatment of LGBT+ people, a serious violation of human dignity. There is a state obligation to protect its LGBT+ communities.

Any pressure placed on an individual to change their sexuality or gender identity must be stopped. It must be illegal to discriminate and dehumanise LGBT+ people. Conversion Therapy is abuse and all forms of abuse must be criminalised.

The Government have been dragging their feet implementing the ban since pledging to end the practice in 2018, and although I welcome the recent announcement at the Queen’s Speech, it must be banned now.

A total and comprehensive ban of conversion therapy is necessary. LGBT+ people in our communities must be protected by law and able to express their identity freely and without fear.

In the UK there should be zero-tolerance for repressive and homophobic practices like conversion therapy that do nothing but incite fear and breed shame among young LGBT+ people.

The Government needs to enact a ban of conversion therapy into law and act urgently to finally stop such a barbaric and unnecessary practice.

Consultations surrounding the introduction of a conversion therapy ban have been taking place for too long, each day without this ban is another day the abuses of LGBT+ people continue.

The Government have been dragging their feet implementing the ban since pledging to end the practice in 2018, and although I welcome the recent announcement at the Queen’s Speech, it must be banned now.

The LGBT+ community deserve to live with dignity and respect. Nobody should be made to feel ashamed of themselves because of who they are or who they love, and that is why we need to ban conversion therapy as soon as possible.

I am a proud ally of LGBT+ people. Please be assured that I will keep up the fight on this important issue until this appalling practice is outlawed once and for all.