Boris Johnson doubles down on excluding trans people from conversion therapy ban

Boris Johnson wearing a face mask

Boris Johnson has defended his decision to leave trans people out of a ban on conversion therapy.

The prime minister said on Wednesday (6 April): “We will have a ban on gay conversion therapy, which to me is utterly abhorrent. 

“But there are complexities and sensitivities when you move from the area of sexuality to the question of gender. There, I’m afraid, there are things that I think still need to be worked out.”

He said he was “sorry we haven’t been able to reach agreement with the organisations concerned but that will in no way diminish our determination to tackle prejudice wherever we can.”

Johnson also argued that trans women should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports, which he believed was a “sensible” opinion. He also said that there should be spaces in hospitals, prisons and changing rooms that were “dedicated to women”.

“That’s as far as my thinking has developed on this issue,” Johnson added. “If that puts me in conflict with some others, then we have got to work it all out.”

He said that his opinions on the lives of the trans community do not mean that he is “not immensely sympathetic to people who want to change gender, to transition”. The prime minister added it is “vital” that “we give people the maximum possible love and support” when “making those decisions”.

But he said “these are complex issues” which he did not think “can be solved in one swift, easy piece of legislation” as it takes a “lot of thought to get this right”.

It comes after widespread backlash to his decision to separate an LGB conversion therapy ban from a trans conversion therapy ban, kicking the latter into the long grass.

Johnson’s refusal to include trans people in the legislation led to the collapse of the government’s flagship LGBT+ rights conference, Safe To Be Me.

More than 120 LGBT+ and HIV groups withdrew their support for the event, leaving ministers with no other choice but to cancel the event.

Iain Anderson, Britain’s LGBT+ business champion, resigned on Tuesday as he accused the government of fighting a “woke war”.

Government sources have told PinkNews that equalities minister Liz Truss was “blindsided” by No. 10’s move to first cancel the conversion therapy ban, then quickly revive it without protections for trans 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.

It’s understood 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, Johnson’s latest comments make this seem like less and less of a reality.

Earlier on Wednesday health secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News that the government is “absolutely right” in banning conversion therapy “for LGB people”.

However, he added: “When it comes to trans, I do think that we need to be more careful.”

Elaborating on why the government has decided to exclude trans people from the ban, Javid said a “more sensitive approach” is needed.

“Is it a genuine case of gender identity dysphoria,” Javid said, “or could it be that that individual is suffering from some child sex abuse, for example, or could it be linked to bullying?”