Labour equalities chief Anneliese Dodds calls for trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban and GRA reform

Labour's shadow secretary of state for women and equalities Anneliese Dodds

Labour MP Anneliese Dodds has demanded the UK government introduce a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban and finally reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). 

Dodds, shadow secretary of state for women and equalities, reflected on the progression of LGBTQ+ rights in the UK during a speech at the PinkNews Westminster Summer Reception on Wednesday evening (13 July).

Anneliese Dodds added that the UK has seen “too much rolling back” on LGBTQ+ rights when the nation needs to be “moving forward”. She said LGBTQ+ campaigners have been “relentlessly” pushing for change and “smashed down those barriers”. 

Dodds declared it was now time for the government to take up the fight for LGBTQ+ equality. This includes, she said, following through on promises to “modernise” the GRA, introducing legislation protecting trans people from conversion therapy and bringing forward protections for LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. 

“We can – not just encourage but – require employers to create and maintain workplaces that are free from LGBT+ harassment including by customers, the third parties who currently can get away with that behaviour and employers not dealing with it,” Dodds said. 

She continued: “We can strengthen and equalise the law so LGBT+ hate crimes attract tougher sentences. All we want is a level playing field for those hate crimes. That is what we need and should have had long ago. 

“Or we can modernise the outdated [GRA] and continue to protect and uphold the Equality Act, including its protections for LGBT+ people. 

“We can ban all forms of conversion therapy, not excluding trans people.”

GRA reform was first proposed in 2016 before it was taken up by then-prime minister Theresa May in 2017. A public consultation ran over the summer of 2018, but the results were not released until two years later. 

A scathing report by the Women and Equalities Committee detailed how the Tories botched its handling of GRA reform and called on the government to fix its wrongs by 2023. However, the life-saving reforms to gender recognition law have been all but scrapped by Boris Johnson’s government

The outgoing prime minister has roundly been condemned for U-turning on long-standing plans for a trans-inclusive ban conversion therapy, four years after May first promised to outlaw the practice. 

Campaigners and MPs have called on the government to introduce trans-inclusive protections. Yet, their pleas have yet to be heard. 

Anneliese Dodds acknowledged that the government has “got to do more” and “achieve more”, but said the “energy” of the people at the event as well as tireless advocates will hold MPs to account for their actions. 

The PinkNews Westminster Summer Reception was sponsored by Gilead Sciences and Micro Rainbow as a charity partner.