Caroline Nokes, the Conservative chair of the women and equalities committee, has joined criticism of the government’s inaction on conversion therapy after the resignations of three of its LGBT+ advisers.
The MP expressed her “disappointment” at the government for not yet banning so-called conversion therapy Thursday (11 March).
She spoke after three members of the government’s LGBT+ advisory board quit citing hostilities toward the community, with one, Jayne Ozanne, saying junior minister Kemi Badenoch’s obfuscating on the long-promised conversion therapy ban was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.
Nokes said that after listening to Jayne Ozanne discuss conversion therapy on Good Morning Britain, she was “so disappointed that government [is] rowing back from legislating to ban it”.
“Last July we were given the impression it would be done,” she added.
Similar frustrations were aired by the LGBT+ Conservatives, the official LGBT+ wing of the party.
“We are deeply concerned by the comments made by Jayne Ozanne,” it said in a statement to PinkNews.
“It is upsetting to hear of her experience and read the allegations she has made.
“A thorough investigation is needed to ensure this does not happen again. We need to set a standard for others to follow. This is not it.”
Government LGBT+ advisers quit over Boris Johnson’s handling of conversion therapy
Jayne Ozanne, a gay evangelical, left the LGBT+ Advisory Panel and resigned as a member of the Conservative Party on Wednesday (10 March).
Herself a survivor of the horrific treatment, Ozanne’s explosive resignation quickly fanned the flames of outrage being directed at the Conservative government’s handling of LGBT+ rights.
Just days prior, parliament held a debate on conversion therapy, during which under-secretary of state for equalities Kemi Badenoch delivered what critics called a “vague” speech.
No timeline or any specifics about the potential legislative ban were provided, and she suggested that an exemption for faith groups has been floated. She also refused to use the word ban repeatedly, sparking concerns.
The lack of progress on the issue has been especially irritating, activists have said, considering the Conservatives pledged back in 2018 to “eradicate” the abhorrent practice as part of their LGBT+ Action Plan.
Johnson reaffirmed this in an interview with PinkNews in the run up to the 2019 general election. But after much silence and inaction, Badenoch’s speech worried many, including Ozanne.
“For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was [Badenoch’s] speech on Monday night, at the end of an extraordinary debate on the need to ban conversion therapy,” she told ITV.
“Every MP from across the parties, from across the United Kingdom, had stood and talked about the need for urgent action.”
Badenoch’s suggestion “she’d been engaging with who many of us would say are perpetrators”, Ozanne said, could “enable spiritual abuse, in my mind, to continue”.
Academics, psychiatrists, queer faith leaders, LGBT+ partisan political groups and queer charity executives have all demanded that conversion therapy be banned in Britain.