Labour MP Dan Carden has grilled Liz Truss, the minister for women and equalities, on the government’s failure to ban conversion therapy.
The Conservative government pledged to ban conversion therapy in its 2018 LGBT Action Plan – but almost three years on, no legislation has been brought forward.
In a letter addressed to Truss, dated 9 March, Carden questioned why the government’s pledge to outlaw the pseudoscientific practice remains “unfulfilled”.
The Liverpool MP branded such practices – which seek to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity – as “abhorrent”, and said they have “no place in modern Britain.”
Carden said he first pressed the government to bring forward a ban on conversion therapy in October 2017, after it emerged the practice was happening in his own constituency.
“Initial government responses were dismissive, then contradictory,” he wrote. “However, in July 2018 I was eventually given a clear assurance in the House of Commons by your predecessor Penny Mordaunt that ‘the government is going to ban these abhorrent practices’. These words left no room for equivocation.”
Carden said the British public and the LGBT+ community have been “left in limbo” ever since while they wait for the government to “deliver on its promise”.
There is real concern that this government is backtracking on LGBT+ rights.
The MP went on to question why the government is conducting further research into conversion therapy before proceeding with a ban.
“This begs the question: why was this work not carried out in the two years since the government pledged to ban conversion therapy?” Carden wrote.
“There is real concern that this government is backtracking on LGBT+ rights. In answer to my written question on 24 September, I was told that the government is ‘considering both legislative and non-legislative options to end conversion therapy practices’. This simply isn’t good enough.
“We know that existing legislation has failed to prevent this abhorrent practise. We need a legislative ban.”
Carden added: “There can be no more delays. I am asking you to take action, fulfil the government’s promise, and consign conversion therapy to history.”
Government has been slammed for lack of progress on conversion therapy
When approached for comment, the government equalities office directed PinkNews to recent remarks made by Kemi Badenoch, under-secretary of state for equalities, in which she said the government is “committed to ending conversion therapy in the UK”.
Badenoch made her comments at the end of a debate in Westminster Hall on conversion therapy, which saw 20 MPs from across the political spectrum speak on the need for the practice to be banned.
Badenoch did not give a timeline on when legislation on conversion therapy is likely to be advanced in her speech. Instead, she alluded to a potential exemption for faith groups, and appeared to suggest that the government might look to Germany – which has banned conversion therapy for minors only – in drafting its own laws.
Badenoch was lambasted by fellow Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, who told PinkNews that she was “out of step with everybody else” who spoke at the debate.
Meanwhile, Labour women and equalities shadow minister Charlotte Nichols described Badenoch’s speech as “vague” and said it contained “no actual commitments to any concrete policy”.