Humanists welcome explicit Labour promise to tackle hate crime and conversion therapy

31 January, 2024

Labour leader Keir Starmer | Photo license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 | Source: Keir Starmer official Flickr

Humanists UK has today welcomed Labour leader Keir Starmer’s renewed commitment to address hate crime and make conversion therapy a criminal offence. In a speech on Monday he said ‘we will strengthen the law, so every category of hate crime is treated as an aggravated offence.’ 

Since 2018, the UK Government has repeatedly pledged to ban the practice of conversion therapy — which subjects LGBT people to fraudulent, harmful, and coercive pseudo-scientific and religious rituals and forms of torture – but has failed to do so. Mr Starmer declared his unequivocal support for outlawing conversion therapy during a recent press event, affirming that such harmful practices have no place in modern society.

Humanists UK has long campaigned for action on hate crime as well as specific legislative action against conversion therapy, a discredited and damaging practice. The Labour leader went on to say ‘Look what we did: decriminalised homosexuality, the Equality Act, repealed Section 28, the Gender Recognition Act and the Civil Partnership Act. A whole raft of groundbreaking legislation that moved the dial towards the equal rights LGBT+ people deserve, protected people from discrimination and changed people’s lives.’

In December, 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 welcomed 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 next month.

Conversion therapy has been widely condemned by medical professionals, human rights organisations, and mental health experts for its harmful effects, which can include depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Despite growing calls for its prohibition, the practice continues to persist in various forms, perpetuating discrimination and psychological trauma.

Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick said:

‘The state has strong interests both in protecting free speech and in preventing harassment, discrimination, and incitement to hatred against people on the basis of their innate characteristics. We welcome Labour’s commitment to strengthen action on hate crime.’

LGBT Humanists Coordinator Nick Baldwin said:

‘I commend Keir Starmer for his promise to safeguard the rights and wellbeing of vulnerable LGBT people. Banning conversion therapy is not only a matter of legal necessity but also a moral imperative. It sends a clear message that the rights and dignity, and ultimately safety, of LGBT people should be protected in law.’

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 over 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.