Reported missing: ‘conversion therapy’ ban in King’s Speech

6 November, 2023

A ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ will reportedly be absent from tomorrow’s King’s Speech. Humanists UK have long campaigned for a ban and have expressed dismay that the Government has failed to uphold its commitment to protect LGBT people from harm. It now seems highly unlikely that a ban can be enacted before the next election.

This reported omission is the latest disappointment after years of inaction and u-turns. It has been over five years since the Government first announced its commitment to banning the harmful practice. However, after abandoning its plan to bring forward legislation in March 2022, the Government was forced to u-turn on this decision the following day as a result of significant backlash. It was reported that the ban would only protect gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, and not trans people. Then, early this year, Humanists UK welcomed the news that the Government would publish a draft bill ‘shortly’ and that the ban would include protection for trans people after all. However, when no draft bill was forthcoming after the summer recess, LGBT Humanists joined other LGBT campaigners to protest the ongoing delays. Since then, there has been little more than conflicting reports as to whether the bill would appear in the King’s Speech or not. Meanwhile, LGBT people continue to be subjected to harmful attempts of so-called ‘conversion therapy’.

Conversion therapy is a discredited and harmful practice, usually rooted in false and often pseudoscientific religious beliefs about what causes people to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans. Evidence shows that it leads to lasting damage for the people subjected to these ‘treatments’. It can result in lasting mental scars, self-harm, and even suicide. Victims are often young and vulnerable, and are more likely to face abuse from their families or communities because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

LGBT Humanists Coordinator Nick Baldwin commented:

‘It’s an understatement to say we’re disappointed by the Government’s complete failure to deliver on its commitment to ban conversion therapy. We’re outraged. We have campaigned for a ban for decades, alongside many others – and we will continue to do so. We remain committed to championing a ban that is inclusive of the whole LGBT community. We cannot accept a ban that contains any loopholes that weaken protections for some, or leave anyone exposed to these abhorrent practices.’

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 is strongly committed to freedom of religion or belief, but that freedom should be limited where it causes harm, and conversion therapy is harmful. 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.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick at or phone 020 3675 0959.

Read more about our work on banning conversion therapy.

Find out more about LGBT Humanists.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 110,000 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.