Reinforcements: second Bill to ban tortuous ‘conversion therapy’ introduced

7 December, 2023

A second Private Members’ Bill to ban conversion therapy has been introduced to Parliament. The Conversion Practices (Prohibition) Bill was presented by Alicia Kearns MP (Conservative) on behalf of All-Party Parliamentary Humanists Group Vice-Chair Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP (Labour). LGBT Humanists welcomes the Bill which will be debated in the House of Commons while a similar Bill, put forward by Humanists UK patron Baroness Burt, will be debated in the House of Lords.

Both Bills aim to put an end to discredited and harmful practices that claim to ‘cure’ people of their homosexuality or transgender identity. 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.

LGBT Humanists welcome both Bills which follow the Government’s failure 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 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 thank both Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP and Alicia Kearns for making a conversion therapy ban high on the parliamentary agenda. We are so relieved to see MPs take this very serious matter into their own hands after the Government’s abject failure to protect LGBT people from the harms of conversion practices. 

‘It’s a powerful message to see both MPs and Peers putting forward legislation to ban conversion practices. We reiterate our plea to parliamentarians from all parties across both houses to get behind the Bills. ’

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.

Notes

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick at press@humanists.uk or phone 07534 248 596.

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 120,000 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.