Methodist Church bans conversion therapy ‘in any form’ after historic, unequivocal vote

Methodist Church conversion therapy ban

The Methodist Church has voted to ban conversion therapy in “any form”, and urged the government to do the same.

On Thursday (1 June), the final day of the Methodist Conference 2021, members of the UK’s second-largest Christian denomination voted on a motion to condemn and ban conversion therapy within the church.

Reverend Catherine Dixon, convener of the Memorials Committee, described the motion to be voted on “regarding the banning of so-called gay conversion therapy”.

It was proposed, she said, that conversion therapy is “totally incompatible with previously agreed resolutions of the conference and the council” and that it would be “contrary to Methodist values”.

Dixon added that conference “agrees… to call on all Methodists to refuse to offer or participate in offering conversion therapy in any form, [and] that no conversion therapy can take place in the name of the Methodist Church”.

As almost every hand in the room was raised in agreement with the proposition, the motion was carried.

Methodist Church throws down gauntlet to UK government on conversion therapy ban

The conference also directed the Methodist council to draft a policy on conversion therapy, and called on the government to bring in a legislative ban.

Reverend Mark Rowland, part of the leadership of Dignity and Worth, a group which has long been fighting for LGBT+ Methodists, said in a statement: “Today the conference made absolutely clear that conversion therapy has no place in the Methodist Church.

“Any attempts to use prayer or coercion to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is spiritual abuse and a perversion of
the gospel message of love and mercy.

“I look forward to the church’s leaders taking this message to the heart of government.”

Jayne Ozanne, director of the Ozanne Foundation which works with “religious organisations to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender”, added: “I am delighted that the Methodist Conference has taken such a clear stand against the degrading and inhumane practices of ‘conversion therapy’, recognising the harm that this causes LGBT+ people.

“Now the second largest Christian denomination in the UK has joined the Church of England in condemning these harmful practices, showing that the majority of Christians fully understand why this needs to be banned.

“Many congratulations to all those who have worked so hard to achieve this, particularly LGBT+ Methodists involved in Dignity and Worth.”

The 2021 Methodist Conference has included more than one historic move related to LGBT+ rights, as on Wednesday (30 June), it also voted to allow same-sex marriage within the church.

The conference voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality, with 254 votes in favour and 46 against, and its standing orders, or rules, will now be amended to define marriage as between “two people”, rather than between “one man and one woman”.