UK to ban 'gay cure' therapies as part of Government LGBT equality plan

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Gay conversion therapies are to be banned under a new LGBT action plan (PA)

The Government has announced that controversial ‘gay conversion’ therapies are to be banned under a new LGBT action plan.

The £4.5 million initiative aimed at making society more inclusive for the LGBT community brands so-called ‘gay cure’ conversion therapies ‘abhorrent’.

The initiative follows a major Government survey which more than 108,000 LGBT people responded to.

The survey found that 2% of respondents had undergone conversion therapy and a further 5% had been offered it.

The action plan states: ‘We will consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy.’

The initiative follows a major Government survey which more than 108,000 LGBT people responded to (Getty)

The survey showed that LGBT people are experiencing prejudice on a daily basis, the Government said.

More than two in three of those who took part in the survey said they avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner in public for fear of a negative reaction, while 23% said work colleagues had reacted negatively to them being LGBT, and over half of those who accessed or tried to access mental health services said they had to wait too long.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘We can be proud that the UK is a world leader in advancing LGBT rights, but the overwhelming response to our survey has shone a light on the many areas where we can improve the lives of LGBT people.

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I was struck by just how many respondents said they cannot be open about their sexual orientation or avoid holding hands with their partner in public for fear of a negative reaction.

‘No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love.’

LGBT hate incidents had been experienced by 40% of people in the survey, with more than nine in 10 of the most serious offences going unreported.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK is a world leader in advancing LGBT rights (Rex)

The plan aims to look into the scale of LGBT abuse online; improving mental healthcare for LGBT people with a focus on suicide prevention; combating homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools, and increasing awareness of the services available for victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell welcomed the move on conversion therapy, but said the overall plan did not go far enough.

Mr Tatchell, who has been invited to attend a Downing Street reception for the LGBT community, said: ‘The biggest fail is the lack of any pledge to end the detention and deportation of LGBT+ refugees fleeing persecution in violently homophobic countries like Uganda, Iran, Russia, Egypt and Jamaica.

‘Another big omission is the absence of any commitment to compensate gay and bisexual men who were convicted under past anti-gay laws.

‘They suffered greatly, frequently being hit with huge fines. The £4.5 million budget is derisory and insulting.’

Laura Russell, of the LGBT campaign group Stonewall, said it was ‘heartbreaking’ so many people had been offered conversion therapies, stating: ‘Our 2015 Unhealthy Attitudes report revealed that one in 10 health and social care staff across Britain witnessed colleagues express the dangerous belief that someone can be ‘cured’ of being lesbian, gay or bi.’

David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “The LGBT Action Plan, and the money behind it, is a positive step in the government’s commitment to improving LGBT rights.

‘Britain now has a proud history of championing diversity and fighting intolerance and this is a real opportunity for us to live up to that reputation.’

A national adviser on reducing LGBT inequality will be appointed as part of the initiative.