Conversion Therapy Ban Watered Down To Protect Under-18s Only

·3-min read
The government has come under heavy criticism for excluding trans people from its plans to ban conversion therapy. (Photo: Hollie Adams via Getty Images)
The government has come under heavy criticism for excluding trans people from its plans to ban conversion therapy. (Photo: Hollie Adams via Getty Images)

The government has come under heavy criticism for excluding trans people from its plans to ban conversion therapy. (Photo: Hollie Adams via Getty Images)

The Conservatives have watered down plans to ban conversion therapy, meaning over-18s can be subject to it as long as they provide consent.

The government has repeatedly said it considers conversion therapy to be a “abhorrent” practice and the pledge to ban it was included in today’s Queen’s Speech.

However, it has now emerged that the ban will only protect over-18s who “do not consent and who are coerced or forced to undergo conversion therapy practices”.

All under 18s will continue to be protected from the ban regardless of their circumstances.

A document outlining the Conversion Therapy Bill stated that the government would introduce a “criminal offence banning non-physical conversion therapies to complement existing legislation which protects people from acts which inflict physical harm”

But it added: “The offence will protect under-18s, regardless of circumstance, and over-18s who do not consent and who are coerced or forced to undergo conversion therapy practices.”

Asked to justify the changes, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “This is a difficult area and we need to strike the right balance.

“It is obviously abhorrent to force this on anyone, but it is a complex area that needs careful management — that’s why I think it’s important to wait for the full details of the bill.”

The spokesman also cited the need for religious teachings to not be inadvertently affected by any ban.

“It’s important that the freedom to express religious teachings is not affected by the ban, individuals will still be able to access support and counsel from religious leaders should they wish,” they said.

“But that’s a separate issue to seeking to force this abhorrent practice on people.”

The government has also been criticised for not pushing ahead with any form of conversion therapy for transgender people.

Instead it has said “separate work” needs to be done on the issue of transgender conversion therapy, but that separate legislation will not be introduced.

“The government will continue doing more policy work on that front before providing further updates,” the spokesperson said.

The decision to not include trans people in the Queen’s Speech was roundly criticised by some campaigners.

Charity Mermaids said the Queen’s Speech “failed trans people”.

“The government has committed, yet again, to ban conversion therapy...despite being the one legislative promise to the LGBT+ community.”

Stonewall tweeted: This pared down bill will end up protecting nobody.”

“We urge the UK government to not play politics with LGBTQ+ lives and listen to the experts – including NHS England and the British Psychological Society – and introduce a ban that protects ALL LGBTQ+ people.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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