Today the UK Government announced that it ‘will publish a draft Bill shortly’ setting out how it will ban conversion therapy in England and Wales. It says that the Bill will protect ‘those targeted on the basis of their sexuality, or being transgender’. Humanists UK has welcomed both the news of the ban, and the trans-inclusive approach, which overturns last year’s reports that the long-awaited ban would exclude trans people. However, it has called for the ban to cover religious settings – something where the position is still unclear.
The UK Government’s position on conversion therapy has been inconsistent since it first announced its commitment to ban the harmful practice in 2018. This was followed by years of inaction until it abandoned the plan entirely in March last year. The Government u-turned on this decision the following day, following a backlash, but it was reported that the ban would only protect gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, and not trans people.
Humanists UK has a long history of campaigning in favour of a ban on conversion therapy that protects all LGBT people.
The UK Government’s 2018 National LGBT Survey showed that 7% of LGBT people had undergone or been offered conversion therapy. Of those who had undergone it, 51% reported that it had been conducted by a religious group or in a religious setting. Such activities can include exorcisms and forced prayer. Humanists UK believes that when people are experiencing such extreme distress over their sexual orientation or gender identity, they should be met with person-centred, therapeutically well-grounded support. They should not face coercive, medically worthless practices that seek to push them in a particular direction.
Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented:
‘We welcome the news that a Bill to ban conversion therapy is finally nearly here. However it is vital that there are no loopholes that continue to allow religious conversion therapy while banning all other practices, or else a ban would not be worth very much.
‘We look forward to seeing the draft Bill, and will continue to campaign against this harmful pseudoscience until we see a law that protects all LGBT people in all settings.’
For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.
Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.