Liz Truss backs conversion therapy ban despite campaign leader’s attack on ‘woke’ plan, ally says

Liz Truss wears a dark green top as she stares somewhere off camera

Iain Duncan Smith has raised questions around Liz Truss’ support of her own conversion therapy ban.

The former Conservative leader and director of Truss’ leadership election campaign was questioned about the frontrunner’s promise to ban the discredited, harmful practice at an event hosted by the Conservative Christian Fellowship on Tuesday (9 August). 

Smith, who was standing in for Truss at the event, was asked for the campaign’s policy on banning conversion therapy.

He said he ‘hated’ the government’s proposed ban, openDemocracy reported. 

“I think when you start banning things like this you enter a maze of problems,” Smith said. “And I absolutely believe that Liz is very much there.”

He continued: “People are allowed their beliefs. You may not agree with them all the time. 

“But the idea you ban them from this is this kind of ghastly woke culture… I think this is a trap for politicians to head down, and it will just make life worse. 

“So Liz is strong on all this woke stuff. And I think she will certainly take the same view as I and many others do.”

However, a Truss ally suggested Smith may have been speaking for himself, telling Politico Truss is “supportive” of a ban.

Truss was – and remains – minister for women and equalities. Her office was charged with working on the conversion therapy ban, though it was widely reported that Boris Johnson ‘blindsided’ Truss when he announced that a legislative ban was being scrapped, before U-turning and confirming an LGB-only ban would be forthcoming.

PinkNews has contacted Liz Truss’ office to clarify her stance.

Liz Truss wears a dark outfit as she gestures with both hands in the air

Banning conversion therapy has been one of Liz Truss’ longtime policies as equalities minister. (Getty/Ian Forsyth)

Tory conversion therapy ban beset by delays and U-turns

The Tories promised the UK’s LGBTQ+ community they would ban the traumatising practice back in 2018, and Truss has long been a proponent of such legislation. 

In June 2020, Truss said in parliament that conversion therapy is a “vile, abhorrent practice” that the Tories “want to stop”.

Prime minister Boris Johnson echoed her words just a few weeks later, agreeing there is “no place” for the practice in the UK. 

Truss announced a consultation on legislation in December 2021, and promised the Tories were “absolutely determined to stamp out conversion therapy”.

She said the government was “committed to a ban” to ensure LGBTQ+ people “can live their lives free from the threat of harm or abuse”. 

People gather in a crowd to call on the UK government to put forward legislation protecting all LGBTQ+ people from conversion therapy. One person holds up a sign that reads 'There is no LGB without the T'

LGBTQ+ advocates and allies have called on the government to put forward a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban. (Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty)

In March 2022, Johnson announced he was dropping plans to ban the practice, breaking years of promises to the UK’s LGBTQ+ community.

Johnson was forced to U-turn within hours after mounting backlash from LGBTQ+ campaigners, MPs and organisations. Downing Street quickly promised to bring forward legislation banning conversion therapy – but only for cisgender lesbian, gay and bisexual people

Truss was reportedly “furious” with Downing Street for going over her head on the issue and making decisions without her prior knowledge, government sources told PinkNews at the time.

She was reportedly “blindsided” the government announcements as she was on a flight when the news broke. 

Government sources told PinkNews that Truss was still, at the time, hopeful to bring forward a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban.