A bill to ban conversion therapy has had its first reading in Parliament. LGBT Humanists has welcomed the Bill, put forward by All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group Vice Chair Baroness Burt of Solihull, that aims to put an end to discredited and harmful practices that claim to ‘cure’ people of being lesbian, gay, bi, or trans.
LGBT Humanists has long campaigned for so-called conversion therapy to be banned. Conversion therapy is 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.
Baroness Burt’s Private Member’s Bill, Conversion Therapy Prohibition (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Bill, was drawn first in the ballot just days after the Government failed to recommit to banning the practice in the King’s Speech. It has been over five years since the Government first announced its commitment to banning conversion therapy. After years of inaction, 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. Then, early this year, Humanists UK welcomed the news that the Government would publish a draft bill ‘shortly’. However, when no draft bill was forthcoming after the summer recess, LGBT Humanists joined other LGBT campaigners to protest the ongoing delays. Meanwhile, LGBT people continue to be subjected to harmful attempts of so-called ‘conversion therapy’.
LGBT Humanists Coordinator Nick Baldwin commented:
‘We would like to thank Baroness Burt for bringing forward this timely Bill. We have waited on the Government to deliver on their commitment to ban the abhorrent practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for so long. We can’t wait any longer. We implore parliamentarians from all parties, across both houses to get behind a Bill that protects the whole LGBT community from conversion 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 email@example.com or phone 07534 248 596.
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