Conversion therapy ban hangs in the balance after Boris Johnson’s resignation, former advisor says

Boris Johnson wears a white button up shirt, green tie with a black shirt as he sits down and stares at someone off camera. There is a blue, red and white flag in the background

Boris Johnson resigning as prime minister puts the future of the conversion therapy ban up in the air, according to Jayne Ozanne.

A conversion therapy ban was first promised by then-prime minister Theresa May in 2018. After her departure from No 10, the can was kicked down the road several times.

Johnson ‘s government eventually published a consultation on a ban in October 2021.  But it later emerged, on 31 March, 2022, that the prime minister planned to ditch a legislative ban.

After huge backlash, he performed one of the many U-turns that defined his time in office – but made clear his ban would only outlaw conversion therapy on the basis of sexual orientation, and not gender identity.

Many MPs, including several Tories, urged the PM to include trans people in the legislation, to no avail. With Johnson now on his way out of office, it appears that there is a fresh opportunity to get the ban right.

According to Jayne Ozanne, a former member of the government’s since-disbanded LGBT+ Advisory Panel, it’s all dependent on whether the Tories choose to make a clean break with Johnson’s ideology.

“We can only hope that whoever succeeds him is from outside of Johnson’s inner circle,” Ozanne told PinkNews on Thursday (7 July).

“He is a PM that has driven a wedge between trans and LGB people,” she said, noting that it was Johnson’s direct “influence” that was responsible for the trans-exclusionary ban.

The campaigner – herself a survivor of conversion therapy – believes Johnson’s resignation could be a decisive moment for the Tory Party when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights.

“MPs like Suella Braverman [are] calling to get rid of the woke, which I am worried is a translation for being anti-trans,” she said. “The party needs to be careful about who they stand by.”

Ozanne pointed to former equalities minister Mike Freer’s resignation letter, which cited a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ people stoked by Johnson’s government.

Similarly, Ozanne resigned from the LGBT+ Advisory Panel in March 2021 because of a “hostile environment for LGBT+ people among this administration”. At the time, the conversion therapy ban was still being discussed.

“When I left as LGBTQ+ advisor, I also left the Tory Party because I believed it had grown into a place where LGBTQ+ issues are not taken seriously,” Ozanne said.

Jayne Ozanne

Gay evangelical Jayne Ozanne is a member of the Church of England General Synod. (ITV News)

Now, she said: “I prefer to be influencing at the table than banging on the door to be heard.”

The first MP to announce their intent to run for Tory leader was Suella Braverman, the attorney general.

Braverman spoke to ITV’s Robert Peston on Wednesday (July 6), saying that she believes Britain needs to “get rid of all this woke rubbish” and make the country a safe place for people to espouse anti-trans views.

“We need to… get back to a country where describing a man and a woman in terms of biology does not mean that you’re going to lose your job,” she said.