Conversion therapy ban delayed by equalities minister Kemi Badenoch pending ‘review’

A screenshot of equalities minister Kemi Badenoch during Britain's Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate on 17 July

New minister for women and equalities Kemi Badenoch has reportedly paused work on a conversion therapy ban.

According to ITV News, Badenoch’s predecessor as equalities minister, Nadhim Zahawi, had agreed to having a joint committee of MPs and Lords assess a bill to outlaw conversion therapy in the spring.

This will now reportedly be delayed by Badenoch, who wants to scrutinise the proposals.

While it isn’t unusual for a new minister to request such a review, Badenoch should already be familiar with the plans.

She served as a junior equalities minister under Liz Truss in Boris Johnson’s government, resigning in July of this year, and was in the post in April 2022 when Johnson dropped then decided to move forward with banning the practice (but not to protect trans people).

She was given the top equalities top by Rishi Sunak, replacing Zahawi just seven weeks after he was appointed.

The UK government first promised to ban conversion therapy in 2018, almost half a decade ago, under Theresa May’s leadership.

Jayne Ozanne, former LGBTQ+ advisor to the government who quit over the failure to move forward with a ban, shared her dismay at the latest pushback.

“[A] delay only ever serves to embolden perpetrators, who continue to act with impunity,” Ozanne, chairperson of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, told PinkNews.

“I despair at yet another delay by this government – who have told us for years that they are working ‘at pace’, whilst countless other countries have just go on and banned it. 

“We know that the majority of the public join us in wanting a full ban and, like us, cannot understand why any minister truly committed to protecting the LGBTQ+ community would want to delay it.”

A government Equality Hub spokesperson told PinkNews: “The minister for women and equalities will consider the responses to the public consultation on conversion practices before responding in due course.

“We have taken steps to ensure that victims of conversion practices have access to the support they need through a new service which launched in September.”

Those aware of Kemi Badenoch’s history will be unsurprised she is putting the brakes on LGBTQ+ rights.

As a junior equalities minister, Badenoch met with anti-trans pressure groups, called trans women ‘men’, and helped to pressure the supposedly independent Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to move away from trans-inclusive policies.

In July, she spoke at a ‘free speech event’ at which she called for the abolition of gender-neutral toilets, and at the launch of her failed leadership bid in the summer, handwritten signs saying ‘men’ and ‘ladies’ were taped to the doors of gender-neutral toilets at the venue.

Last week, Badenoch used her first appearance as women and equalities minister to launch an attack on PinkNews CEO Benjamin Cohen, over his criticism of her anti-trans statements and abstention on a vote to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, among other issues.

When asked to respond to the tweets, Badenoch told parliament that “this particular individual is someone who uses Twitter as a tool for defamation”, wrongly suggesting he had been sued as a result.

Badenoch has received widespread criticism for her statement, including from Jeremy Corbyn and Dawn Butler, who have urged her to “correct the record”.