Wales puts Boris Johnson to shame with conversion therapy ban ‘where no one is left behind’

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

Wales has set out its next steps for a comprehensive conversion therapy ban, putting England and prime minister Boris Johnson to shame.

Last month, it was revealed that Johnson had dropped plans to ban conversion therapy in England and Wales, but after blistering backlash, the prime minister U-turned hours later.

However, upon changing his mind, Johnson said that a ban would only cover the barbaric practice if it aimed to change sexual orientation, not gender identity.

Despite Boris Johnson’s decision, representatives said that Wales, as well as Scotland, would push forward with comprehensive bans, vowing to protect trans folk even if England refused.

On Monday, 25 April, Wales’ deputy minister for social partnership Hannah Blythyn set out the country’s next steps to ban conversion therapy “unilaterally”.

She said in a statement: “As a government, we’ve committed to ensuring that we become the friendliest LGBT+ nation in Europe, where no one is left out or left behind.

“Today I am announcing several further steps Welsh government is taking towards making conversion therapy a thing of the past.

“In addition to seeking legal advice to determine all the levers we have in Wales to end the practice of conversion therapy unilaterally; we will educate and raise awareness of the horrors and ineffectiveness of conversion therapy practices by establishing a dedicated campaign in Wales.”

As well as legislating against conversion therapy, often compared to torture, Blythyn said that “work will be undertaken to better understand the impact of conversion ‘therapy’ on survivors to enable support services to be improved and we will establish a working group of experts, to include representatives from faith communities; the health and social care sector; and children and young people’s representatives, alongside LGBT+ people to help with this work and advise on key elements as a ban is developed”.

Blythyn added that the Welsh government and NHS Wales had signed up to the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy’s memorandum of understanding (MoU), which declares: “The practice of conversion therapy, whether in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, is unethical and potentially harmful.

“Neither sexual orientation nor gender identity in themselves are indicators of a mental disorder.”

Dr Frank Atherton, chief medical officer for Wales, and Judith Paget, chief executive of NHS Wales, said in a joint statement: “The Welsh government and NHS Wales fully support the banning of LGBT+ conversion therapy, witnessed through our signing of the MoU with the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy.

“We stand united in our desire to make this abhorrent practice illegal and believe this will offer an important opportunity to support those at risk of conversion therapy as well as victims and survivors.”