TUC and Unison urge government to ban gay conversion therapy as petition heads to Parliament

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

More than 40 different LGBT groups along with trade union organisations the TUC and Unison have called on the government to ban gay conversion therapy.

The discredited medical practice has been described as “harmful” by the government – although some therapists still seek to provide the treatment – through referrals by GPs.

A petition of 2,002 individual signatures will officially be submitted to the House of Commons on Monday by Shadow Home Office Minister for Crime and Security Diana Johnson.

In addition, more than 40 backbench MPs have now signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling on the government to take steps to ban conversion therapy for under-18s and investigate NHS links with conversion therapists.

The Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Equalities, Labour MP Sandra Osborne, tabled the motion in June along with Conservative MP Crispin Blunt and Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert.

Diane Johnson, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North, said to PinkNews.co.uk: “Completed petition sheets have been sent in to my office from some 40 organisations from communities in every region in the country: Blackpool to Brighton, Bristol to Scotland, Wales to London and many places in-between. A range of national organisations, including MESMAC, UNISON and USDAW, have all lent their support to the Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network’s campaign.

“I believe the wide support this paper petition, and the recent EDM against conversion therapy tabled by Sandra Osborne MP, have received, show that gay conversion isn’t just something that happens in the US. The government need to start taking the issue seriously.”

Last September, Health Minister Norman Lamb stated that the government had “no plans to introduce statutory regulation for psychotherapists”.

Lesley Pilkington, the Christian psychotherapist who was found to be providing gay conversion therapy, was struck off by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) in the same month.

In June, Labour MP Geraint Davies wrote a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt urging for him to consider a complete ban on gay conversion therapy from being provided by psychotherapists.

Mr Davies said: “There’s obviously no need to offer treatment for something that’s not an illness. Conversion therapy is based on outdated views and dodgy science, and if people are being referred to it by their GPs then it’s a ridiculous waste of NHS time and money.”