One in four LGBT+ victims of sexual violence think attacker was ‘trying to convert or punish them’

A protestor holds a conversion therapy ban placard

Campaigners have urged a comprehensive ban on conversion therapy after a survey found that one in four LGBT+ victims of sexual violence in the UK thought their attacker was trying to “convert or punish” them.

Almost a quarter (23.5 per cent) of those surveyed for LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop said they believe the sexual assault they experienced was intended to convert or punish them for their identity.

The figure increased if the victim was asexual (34 per cent), non-binary (32 per cent), a trans man (35 per cent) or a trans woman (30 per cent).

Galop analysed 1,020 anonymous responses from LGBT+ people aged 16 and over in the UK for the report, which took place in 2020.

The charity said the numbers are likely to be underestimates, as survivors do not always disclose historic experiences and “rarely identify what has happened to them using the term ‘conversion therapy’”.

Leni Morris, Galop‘s CEO, said the findings “underline the need for a complete ban on conversion practices” in the UK, something that has been on the table since 2018, but faced with continual delays.

Morris added: “This is the largest study of LGBT+ victims of sexual violence in the UK to date, and the results we’ve found relating to conversion and punishment show that this is a significant and ongoing issue.

“There are assumptions and stereotypes about victims of so-called conversion therapy, but our report shows this is happening to LGBT+ people of all cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. It also shows clearly that there is a long history of this kind of abuse against our community – and that it is still happening right now in the UK today.

“These findings underline the need for a complete ban on conversion practices, which must include protection for every victim in the LGBT+ community.”

A government spokesperson told Press Association: “Physical or sexual violence towards LGBT+ people is a crime.

“We are taking action to ensure the most serious sexual and violent offenders spend longer in prison, and have committed to go further by banning the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy.”

A UK consultation on ending conversion therapy was intended to run for six weeks to gauge public opinion on the specifics of legislating the ban, with the aim of bringing a draft to parliament by spring 2022, however in December 2021 the consultation was extended by a further eight weeks. Campaigners have also accused the Tories’ proposed ban of “falling short” by including a loophole for “religious counselling”.

At least two per cent of LGBT Britons have undergone conversion therapy, according to the UK government’s 2018 National LGBT Survey.

Of them, 51 per cent had it conducted by faith groups.