Tory government’s long-awaited conversion therapy ban hits yet another roadblock

Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss

Government has extended its consultation on a conversion therapy ban by a further eight weeks, after producing an accessible version one day before the response deadline.

On 29 October, the government published its consultation document for a conversion therapy ban.

Despite being littered with red flags, including religious exemptions and exemptions for “consenting adults”, the document was at least a step in the right direction, finally materialising three years since it was promised by the Conservatives in 2018.

The consultation was intended to run for six weeks, to gauge public opinion on the specifics of legislating for a ban on the debunked and hugely damaging practice, with the government promising to bring a a draft to parliament in spring 2022.

This time period, due to end on Friday (10 December), has now been extended a further eight weeks, meaning the new deadline for responses is 4 February, 2022, at 11.45pm.

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) insisted the extension was “to ensure the widest possible views are taken into account”, after it seemingly forgot that those who require an accessible easy read version of the consultation might want to respond.

It published the easy read version on Thursday (9 December), just one day before the initial conversion therapy consultation deadline.

Stonewall CEO Nancy Kelley said in a statement: “This consultation should have been accessible from the beginning so it is important that the UK government is fixing its mistake by providing an easy read version.

“Across the globe, there has been urgent action taken by governments to ban this abhorrent practice, and the UK is already lagging behind on the global stage.”

However, the LGBT+ community is now fearing that the government’s mistake will mean further delay to the already long-awaited ban.

“Any potential delay to this ban will leave more LGBT+ people at risk of lifelong harm,” Kelley said.

“Now the UK government must make clear that this necessary extension will not delay their plans to bring forward a bill in Spring 2022.”

The GEO told PinkNews: “The Equality Hub will prepare draft legislation by spring 2022, which will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.”

The conversion therapy consultation document can be accessed here, and the easy read version here. Anyone wishing to give their opinion on the proposals can submit their responses online, or by email or by post.