Conversion therapy to be banned in UK by spring 2022, vows Boris Johnson’s LGBT+ rights envoy

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The British government is, in fact, “committed to outlawing conversion ‘therapy’ by spring 2022”, the prime minister’s LGBT+ envoy has said.

Nick Herbert, appointed by Boris Johnson as a “special envoy” on queer advocacy at home and abroad, gave a simple piece of information that many officials have been unable to give – a time the ban will be introduced.

Herbert tweeted his support on Friday morning (1 October) for a report helmed by a raft of parliamentarians and legal experts that gives the government a simple blueprint of what a conversion therapy ban would look like.

“I welcome this,” the former MP for Arundel and South Downs, said.

“A useful and constructive report and timely as the government’s consultation will be published shortly on how (not whether) conversion therapy should be outlawed.”

“I know the government remains committed – as set out in the Queen’s speech – to bringing forward legislation next Spring to ensure that the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy will be banned,” he added.

The government’s years-long pledge to ban conversion therapy has been riddled by a number of delays, fuelling frustration among activists.

A vow to outlaw the debunked, dangerous practice was first promised by Theresa May’s government in 2018. Since then, advocates have accused Johnson of kicking the planned legislation repeatedly into the long grass.

In May, Queen Elizabeth II promised a conversion therapy ban would be brought forward during her speech at the State Opening of Parliament.

Immediately afterwards, the Government Equalities Office said the law would be advanced following a public consultation process which would “ensure that the ban can address the practice while protecting the medical profession; defending freedom of speech; and upholding religious freedom.”

The consultation has since been pushed back by weeks, with a late October launch slated by officials.

One thorn for many advocates was Johnson’s insistence that the ban would take time as the legislation as it will be “technically complex”.

But in the Cooper Report, commissioned in July by conversion therapy survivor and a former LGBT advisor to the government Jayne Ozanne, contributors wrote how the ban would be anything but.

“Whilst there have been many who have sought to muddy the water and question whether it is possible to define ‘conversion therapy’, the Forum is clear that it should relate to ‘any practice that attempts to suppress, “cure” or change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity’,” Ozanne said in a press release.

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