Liz Truss still hopeful trans people will be included in eventual conversion therapy ban

Liz Truss (L) and Boris Johnson (R).

Tory equalities minister Liz Truss is still hopeful that trans people will be included in an eventual conversion therapy ban, government sources have told PinkNews.

Truss and Downing Street are said to be at loggerheads since it was announced on Friday (1 April) that Boris Johnson had scrapped plans to ban conversion therapy several years after the government first promised to do so.

In the face of mounting backlash, Downing Street was forced into an embarrassing U-turn, saying it would ban conversion therapy after all – but only for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

PinkNews understands that the policy change was the brainchild of Andrew Griffith, the Tory MP brought in to replace Munira Mirza as the head of the Downing Street policy unit.

PinkNews also understands that Truss is “furious” with Downing Street for going over her head on the issue and that decision were made without her prior knowledge. The equalities minister was on a flight when the news broke and is said to have been “blindsided” by the announcements.

Government sources told PinkNews on Tuesday (5 April) that Truss and her junior minister Mike Freer are now hoping an agreement can be reached to include trans people in the eventual ban on barbaric conversion therapy, as was originally promised by Theresa May’s government.

However, PinkNews understands that the next steps for a conversion therapy ban inclusive of all LGBT+ people will be “heavily guided” by No 10.

Government must ban conversion therapy for trans people too, activists say

The decision to exclude trans people from a conversion therapy ban has caused strife both in and outside of government – Johnson has faced fierce backlash from LGBT+ organisations since ITV News broke the story on Thursday (31 March).

More than 80 LGBT+ organisations announced on Monday (4 April) that they will be boycotting the government’s flagship LGBT+ conference, titled Safe To Be Me, over Johnson’s failure to protect trans people from conversion therapy.

Iain Anderson, who serves as the government’s LGBT+ business champion, announced his resignation over the furore on Tuesday (5 April). In a statement, he described Downing Street’s decision as “devastating”.

Jamie Wallis, the Tory MP who recently came out as trans, said he was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision to exclude trans people from conversion therapy legislation.

“If the [conversion therapy] ban passes through parliament without any protections for the transgender community, it cannot be described as anything other than a broken promise,” Wallis tweeted.

Conversion therapy, the practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, has been discredited and debunked by every major psychiatric organisation. The United Nations has described it as a form of torture.

A number of countries across the world have already legislated to outlaw the practice, including France and Canada. In the UK, Theresa May’s government first pledged to ban conversion therapy in 2018 – it was one of 75 commitments in the Tories’ LGBT Action Plan.

Since Boris Johnson became prime minister, the government has repeatedly kicked legislation down the road. In that time, both Johnson and Truss have repeatedly pledged to outlaw conversion therapy, but no legislation has been brought forward.

In October 2021, the government launched a public consultation on the practice. That came more than two years after Theresa May promised to ban conversion therapy.