Government must not use conversion therapy as ‘pawn’ in culture war, pleads pansexual Lib Dem leadership hopeful Layla Moran

Conversion therapy

Lib Dem leadership candidate Layla Moran has warned Liz Truss not to use a conversion therapy ban as “a pawn in the Government’s culture war”.

Moran, who is pansexual, wrote to the equalities minister urging her to come forward with a “firm timetable” to ban conversion therapy as soon as parliament returns in September.

In the letter Moran noted “insulting” reports that the government intends to introduce a ban as a way “placate” the LGBT+ community while it drops vital plans to reform gender recognition laws, and sought assurances that the two separate issues were not being linked together.

“I’m deeply concerned to hear reports that the ban of conversion therapy could be announced alongside a regressive row back on trans rights,” she wrote.

“The rights of LGBT+ people cannot be traded off against each other. It is frankly insulting that ministers believe moving forward with a ban on gay conversion therapy can placate the LGBT+ community for moving backwards on trans rights.”

She described the so-called therapy as “an abhorrent practice which must be banned without delay”, and criticised the government for “dragging its feet for over two years now in banning this harmful and outdated practice”.

“Research has already found the widespread harm caused by gay conversion therapy,” she added. “We now need action before more vulnerable young people are subjected to it.”

Efforts to change sexuality or gender identity have been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide, and drug addictionAll major UK medical and psychotherapy organisations have rejected the practice for decades, and the UN has long called for a global ban.

In light of this, Moran questioned why the prime minister has claimed further research is needed into the issue before the government can act.

Government described conversion therapy as ‘a very complex issue’.

The Conservative government committed to eradicating conversion therapy in its July 2018 LGBT+ Action Plan, but has so far made no measurable progress towards doing so.

A July 2019 report promised that a formal consultation was on the way, but when equalities minister Kemi Badenoch was questioned in May she made no mention of the consultation. She called conversion therapy “a very complex issue” and said that the government had not decided how to proceed, The Independent reported.

When Truss was pressured on the topic on May 29, she remained vague about a timeline. She would “shortly be bringing forward plans”, she claimed, and had asked her office to “make arrangements” for this to happen.

The continued delays led to 85 influential public figures, including Elton John, Stephen Fry and Dua Lipa, writing an open letter to the government calling for urgent action.

The letter condemns the “demonising” of trans people in the UK, noting the attacks on trans healthcare being made under the umbrella of tackling conversion therapy.

“There has been a growing, dangerous suggestion that trans healthcare should be prevented on the basis that it is itself a form of conversion therapy. This will further contribute to the demonising of trans people within the UK,” it reads.

“The issue of conversion therapy will not be remedied by questioning trans people and trans youth, who are already a particularly vulnerable group.”