Despite being absent from the King’s Speech earlier this week, a new bill to ban conversion therapy will be debated in Parliament after all. Humanists UK is delighted that the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group Vice Chair Baroness Burt of Solihull’s Private Member’s Bill, Conversion Therapy Prohibition (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Bill, has been drawn first in the House of Lords ballot. As the first Bill to be drawn, it is possible that, if it received sufficient support, it could become law.
Humanists UK has long campaigned for so-called conversion therapy to be banned. 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.
It has been over five years since the Government first announced its commitment to banning conversion therapy. After years of inactions, the Government abandoned its plan to bring forward legislation in March 2022, and was subsequently forced to u-turn on this decision the following day after 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.
Humanist UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick commented:
‘After the bitter disappointment of its omission from the King’s Speech, we are so pleased to see that a ban on conversion therapy is going to be debated this Parliamentary session after all.
LGBT people continue to be harmed while the Government have been dithering over what to do, so we would like to congratulate Baroness Burt on the initiative to get things moving. We hope that parliamentarians across both houses will get on board with banning these worthless, harmful 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07534 248 596.
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.