Boris Johnson urged to listen after ‘phenomenal’ response to trans conversion therapy ban petition

A demonstrator holds a placard demanding a ban on trans conversion therapy at a protest opposite Downing Street

A petition to have the UK government protect trans folk from conversion therapy will now be put forward to be debated in parliament.

Although the government had promised a conversion therapy ban since 2018, last month leaks revealed that plans to legislate against the practice, often compared to torture, had been scrapped. 

In the face of blistering backlash from human rights, LGBT+ and mental health campaigners, as well as celebrities and politicians, Boris Johnson reinstated plans for a ban, but said it would not cover trans people. 

On Monday (11 April), a petition to “ensure trans people are fully protected under any conversion therapy ban”, started just a few days ago by Sammantha Harris, surpassed the 100,000 signature threshold to be debated in parliament.

At the time of writing, it has been signed 114,000 times.

In its own research on conversion therapy, the UK government found that while seven per cent of cisgender respondents had undergone or been offered conversion therapy, this jumped to 13 per cent for transgender respondents, showing that trans folk are “more likely to be offered or receive conversion therapy than cisgender lesbian, gay or bisexual people”.

“It’s shameful that the UK intends to deliberately exclude trans people from a ban in contrast to the approach taken by many countries, despite trans people being at a greater risk of experiencing the harmful and degrading practices,” the petition reads.

“The government’s own figures show that trans people are nearly twice as likely to be at risk of experiencing the harmful and degrading practices of conversion therapy.

“A ban needs to ensure all forms of conversion therapy are banned.”

Jayne Ozanne, founder and chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition, told PinkNews: “The petition is now one of the most successful ongoing petitions and is growing at a phenomenal rate, showing just how many people from across the country and the political divide disagree with the prime minister’s decision to exclude trans people from the protections they urgently need.

“To get this response in just days shows how much the British public care about one of the most marginalised groups in our society. The prime minister would do well to listen to that concern.”

On Sunday, thousands of trans folk and their allies gathered outside Downing Street to demand that Johnson keep trans people in his conversion therapy ban.

One attendee, freelance trans journalist Arthur Webber, told PinkNews: “I’m attending today because there is no reason besides transphobia that conversion ‘therapy’ is acceptable for transgender people, but not for cisgender LGB people.

“If it’s torture for them, it’s torture for us.”