Tory MP Alicia Kearns issues heartfelt apology to trans people amid furious conversion therapy row

Alicia Kearns conversion therapy

Conservative MP Alicia Kearns has condemned Boris Johnson’s decision to exclude trans people from a ban on “abhorrent” conversion therapy, declaring that the trans community “deserves an apology”.

On Monday (4 April), the Tory government confirmed it would be moving ahead with a proposed ban on so-called conversion therapy, described by UN experts as torture, but only for lesbian, gay and bisexual people – with trans people being left out in the cold.

It came after reports on Friday (1 April) claiming that the government was planning to drop a long-overdue ban on conversion therapy altogether.

The move sparked furious backlash from LGBT+ activists and organisations, religious leaders , MPs from all parties and more, leading to the total collapse of the Tories’ flagship LGBT+ conference Safe To Be Me.

In a searing op-ed for The Times, Kearns wrote “It’s the government’s duty to protect the British people – all of them. It goes without saying that LGBTQ+ people must not be excluded from these protections – including trans people.

“We cannot say that so-called conversion therapy is an illegal and abhorrent practice when used against our gay community, but stand indifferent when the same techniques are inflicted elsewhere, especially on those most likely to face it: our transgender community.”

The MP for Rutland and Melton has previously stood up for trans people’s inclusion in any proposed conversion therapy bill, long before the U-turn to exclude them was announced, stating that she has worked with 15 LGBT+ advocacy organisations to form a proposal to the government for a comprehensive conversion therapy ban.

“Since no one else seems to be saying it, I apologise to our transgender community,” she wrote in the article.

“Excluding trans people from this ban not only devalues the misery and suffering already suffered by countless victims, but also devalues trans people as less worthy of protection.”

Alicia Kearns explained that religious figures, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, are supportive of a ban on the practice to include trans people.

She said: “They [religious figures] do not wish to see their loving faiths perverted to abuse gay or transgender people, and have publicly stated that coercive prayer should not be co-opted as a means of ‘one person manipulating another’.”

She added: “This ban isn’t some new woke frontier for politicians to weaponise in some culture war they think is vote-winning… It is about protecting the vulnerable, and doing right by some of the most marginalised in our society.”

Boris Johnson doubled down on the decision to leave trans people out of a ban on conversion therapy on Wednesday (6 April), stating “there are things that I think still need to be worked out” in the legislation.

“We will have a ban on gay conversion therapy, which to me is utterly abhorrent,” Johnson told Sky News.

“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 added that he is “immensely sympathetic to people who want to change gender, to transition”, but that these are “complex issues” which he did not think “can be solved in one swift, easy piece of legislation”.