MP introduces bill to ban gay ‘cure’ therapy after government pledge to outlaw it

An MP has introduced a bill that would legally ban gay ‘cure’ therapy – after the government said it would back plans to clamp down on the practise.

Labour’s Geraint Davies, the MP for Swansea West, has brought forward a backbench bill to outlaw gay ‘cure’ therapy, which is supported by 22 MPs from across the political spectrum.

The Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) Bill would legally ban gay to straight ‘conversion’ therapy and regulate counsellors and psychotherapists “to ensure that their services meet high standards and protect patients’ needs”.

It is currently legal for unregulated psychotherapists and faith groups to attempt to ‘cure’ people of homosexuality in the UK, though the practice is banned on the NHS under a voluntary ‘Memorandum of Understanding’.

The government this month published an LGBT Action Plan vowing to “fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy” – a vague pledge that Davis is hoping to turn into concrete action.

In a statement to PinkNews, Davies said: “It is welcome news that the Government is talking the talk but we need to see them walk the walk too.

“It should be illegal to create trauma amongst the LGBT community through this blatant abuse by unqualified people masquerading as clinicians.

“The grotesque practice of gay to straight conversion therapy, which is often based on religious fundamentalism rather than evidence-based treatment, has driven many victims to suicide, and shows no evidence of changing individuals’ sexuality.”

Davies, who spearheaded efforts on the issue in 2014, added: “I will be presenting my bill again to force the Government into action.

“Being LGBT is not a medical condition which needs treatment nor a psychological flaw in need of correction. We should be free to discover and rejoice in who we are, not face oppression from those who would impose their narrow view of the world in what is now a form of legalised violence that the Tory Government has repeatedly ignored.

“My Bill will give the opportunity to fast-track this legislation and to make sure this is not yet more empty words from the Government.”

The bill’s supporters include Conservative MP Nigel Evans, Liberal Democrat Layla Moran, and Labour LGBT rights campaigners Ben Bradshaw and Ged Killen.

Former Labour MP Jared O’Mara, who quit the party last week following a row over his homophobic past, is also surprisingly listed as a supporter of the bill.

Jared O’Mara

Equalities minister Penny Mordaunt previously told PinkNews she was determined to stamp out gay ‘cure’ therapy.

She said: “We want to ban [gay cure therapy], and what we are doing is going to be consulting on the best ways of doing that. That will include legislative and non-legislative means.

“What people need to understand is this is not about banning appropriate counselling for people who might be seeking support to explore their sexuality or gender identity… this is about harmful processes.

“In the most extreme form, corrective rape, and those must be banned. We are looking at the best ways of doing that.”

Penny Mordaunt (Amy Ashenden)

She confirmed the ban would apply to faith groups, saying: “We don’t want to hamper religious freedom, but that is very different from processes and practises that intimidate people, that make people feel bad about who they are, who either coerce or force them to go through a particular so-called treatment.

“That is entirely separate from someone’s religious freedoms and so we will not have any qualms about tackling those appalling practises wherever they arise.”

Fundamentalist Christian groups have vowed to oppose the change.

The Core Issues Trust, a faith-based gay ‘cure’ group, issued a statement via lobbying group Christian Concern accusing the government of “discriminating against ex-gays”, and “[persecuting] viewpoints that reject the normalisation of homosexuality and gender mainstreaming.”

Performing gay ‘cure’ therapy on minors is already is illegal in 12 US states and counting, as well as Switzerland, Malta, Taiwan, two Canadian provinces, and the Australian state of Victoria.

Experts overwhelmingly agree that attempts to cure sexuality are futile, misguided, and often extremely harmful. Attempts to force teens to repress their sexuality has been linked to depression, self-harm and even suicide.

The European Parliament voted in March to condemn gay ‘cure’ therapy and urged member countries to ban the harmful practice.