Trans and non-binary protestors were at Westminster yesterday (23 November) as a group of US fundamentalist Christians held a conference asking British MPs not to ban so-called LGBT+ conversion therapy.
The protest, organised by the collective Trans Activism UK, saw demonstrators take placards supporting a ban on LGBT+ conversion therapy to a building in Westminster where a conference of those opposing a ban on conversion therapy was taking place
The all-day conference, “Is the government ban on conversion therapy safe?”, was held at Westminster yesterday by an organisation called The International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC), which brought together speakers from Christian groups in the US and UK.
The group describes itself as “supporting people with unwanted same-sex attraction” and supports giving LGBT+ people conversion therapy to change their gender identity to cisgender and their sexuality to heterosexual.
The IFTCC is led by Mike Davidson, who advocates for “healing from homosexuality” and was formerly the director of Core Issues Trust, a Christian fundamentalist charity that is one of the most vocal lobby groups for conversion therapy in the UK.
Here and loud!
We've been having some interesting talks with folks from the conference including organisers.
We've heard that the goings on inside are as bad as you'd imagine.
Come join us – SW1P 3AA pic.twitter.com/YbMcZnCJSQ
— Trans Activism UK (@TransActivismUK) November 23, 2021
Protestors handed out leaflets to those attending the conference, explaining why the barbaric practice should be outlawed in the UK, and LGBT+ people who had suffered conversion therapy shared their stories throughout the day to highlight the harm caused by the practice.
A ban on the discredited and harmful practice of LGBT+ conversion therapy is imminent in England and Wales, with a six-week government consultation about the details of the ban currently open for public responses.
With the consultation closing on 10 December, those opposed to banning LGBT+ conversion therapy have ramped up their activities in the hopes that the government will not outlaw the practice. Conversion therapy is anything from prayer and therapy to starvation and corrective rape that attempts to change a person’s sexuality or trans identity.
‘We stood not only for trans people, but the whole LGBTQ spectrum’
People responding to Trans Activism UK’s call for the protest began arriving at One Great George Street, a building in Westminster that is a five-minute walk away from the houses of parliament, began arriving at 9am.
Many stayed the whole day despite the cold. Laura Kate Dale, a trans journalist and gamer who attended the protest, said on Twitter that she is “so proud” of all those who protested.
“We made sure that those preaching for conversion therapy were not unopposed,” Dale wrote. “We let the public know what they wanted kept secret. We let them know we saw through their carefully constructed facade.”
Home and warm safe.
So proud of everyone at @TransActivismUK today.
We made sure that those preaching for conversion therapy were not unopposed.
We let the public know what they wanted kept secret.
We let them know we saw through their carefully constructed facade.
— Laura Kate Dale (@LaurakBuzz) November 23, 2021
The collective behind the protest live-tweeted throughout the day, and said they’d had “some interesting talks” with people from the IFTCC, including organisers, adding “we’ve heard that the goings on inside are as bad as you’d imagine”.
Online, supporters of the protest noted that those demonstrating in Westminster were predominantly trans and non-binary, despite conversion therapy being an issue that affects all LGBT+ people.
“Kinda telling about the complacence of cis people that the organised opposition to a primarily anti-gay conversion therapy event is mainly trans people,” wrote Mallory Moore, a researcher with Trans Safety Network, which monitors the anti-trans hate movement in the UK.