Nicola Sturgeon gives Boris Johnson conversion therapy ultimatum: Ban it, or I will

Two photos, one of Nicola Sturgeon in a red jacket and top, one of Boris Johnson in a black suit and blue tie

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged that if Boris Johnson doesn’t “take serious action” on banning LGBT+ conversion therapy, the SNP will outlaw the “discriminatory and harmful practice” itself.

“If the UK government does not take serious action on conversion therapy, an SNP government will bring forward our own legislation to end these discriminatory and harmful practices against LGBT+ people insofar as the powers of the Scottish parliament allow,” Sturgeon vowed Sunday (18 April).

Prime minister Johnson was criticised last week after it was revealed that he promised an Evangelical Christian group that any ban on LGBT+ conversion therapy will have an exemption for churches.

Despite the Conservatives committing to ban the traumatising practice in 2018, Johnson said that any ban on conversion therapy will not apply to adults who seek “pastoral support” from churches while exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Last week also saw Johnson disband the government’s LGBT+ advisory panel, which had seen three members quit in recent months over allegations the Tories have created a “hostile environment for LGBT+ people”.

Nicola Sturgeon also reaffirmed the SNP’s commitment to reforming gender recognition laws for transgender people.

“The SNP remain committed to improving the lives of trans and non-binary people. Trans people continue to suffer stigma and prejudice and suffer poorer health outcomes relative to the wider population,” Sturgeon said.

“We are committed to tackling transphobia head on through inclusive education and action to tackle prejudice and hate crime.

“In the next parliament, we will work with trans people, women, equality groups, legal and human rights experts to identify the best and most effective way to improve and simplify the process by which a trans person can obtain legal recognition. We remain committed to making necessary changes to the Gender Recognition Act that arise from this work at the earliest opportunity.”

An increasingly public row about transphobia in the SNP in recent months saw Sturgeon publicly vow to tackle the issue just days before sacking front-bench MP Joanna Cherry, who known for her “gender critical” views and opposition to trans rights reform.

Sturgeon concluded her speech by saying: “Scotland has been on a journey from a nation that once criminalised LGBT people to one that is now recognised as among the best in the world for equality, but we know there is still more we need to do to make Scotland a fairer and more equal country for all.”