Labour’s Anneliese Dodds blasts Kemi Badenoch over conversion therapy ban: ‘We need a ban now!’

Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities Anneliese Dodds speaks at the PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception

Labour MP Anneliese Dodds has urged Tory women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch to “stand by” the government’s plans to ban the abhorrent practice of so-called conversion therapy, which she referred to as “abuse”.

The shadow secretary of state for women and equalities hit out at the Tory minister and the government’s delay at getting the bill out during a speech at the PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception on Wednesday (7 June).

Dodds, who represents Oxford East for Labour, noted that July will mark the five year anniversary of the government’s LGBT Action Plan, in which it first promised to ban the archaic practice. 

“Half a decade later, LGBT+ people are still waiting. But those at risk of this insidious practice can’t wait any longer – they need a ban now,” she said. 

The shadow secretary added: “I am also clear that there can’t be any loopholes that allow people to consent to conversion practices. You can’t consent to abuse.”

Anneliese Dodds addressing the PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception. (PinkNews)
Anneliese Dodds addressing the PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception. (PinkNews)

During her speech, Dodds cited concerns that Badenoch “doesn’t want to take responsibility” for banning conversion practices and has distanced herself from the proposals.

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Anneliese Dodds stated that Kemi Badenoch’s predecessor Liz Truss “took clear ownership of the plans for a Conversion Therapy Bill in the 2021 and 2022 Queen’s Speeches.”

She contniued: “But the most recent commitment to publish a draft bill was made by the culture secretary via Written Ministerial Statement in January, with media reports suggesting that the women and equalities minister had actually started a letter-writing campaign against it. 

“You couldn’t make this up.” 

 ”It’s time for the women and equalities minister to stand by her government’s commitment to introduce a ban,” Dodds urged. 

In an exclusive interview with PinkNews, Dodds doubled down on the urgency of the matter, saying “we can’t wait any longer”. 

“That bill was promised five years ago. We then had, of course, claims that it wouldn’t be a fully trans-inclusive ban. We had claims there would be the ability to ‘consent’ to what is ultimately abuse,” she said. 

“The government just needs to get on and ultimately publish that bill that we can put into practice a ban to stop this invidious practice.” 

Following Dodd’s speech, equalities minister Stuart Andrew addressed attendees at the event in Speaker’s House and explained he understands there are “frustrations” around the ban but confirmed he is “doing everything possible to get that out almost imminently”. 

The junior minister added: “I can also confirm that the ban will protect everyone.”

Equalities minister Stuart Andrew speaking at the PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception
Equalities minister Stuart Andrew promised conversion therapy ban proposals are “almost imminent”. (PinkNews)

At the PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception, which was attended by politicians from across the political spectrum, activists, charity workers and journalists, a number of figures continued to express concerns over delays to the bill, and what it will look like in actuality. 

Gay Christian, former government equalities advisor and conversion therapy survivor Jayne Ozanne told PinkNews she was “heartened” to hear how “important a comprehensive ban that protects everyone is so central to all opposition parties’ LGBT+ strategies”.  

“It was also good to hear minister Stuart Andrew say that the government’s draft legislation “will protect everyone”, however I fear trust is so low in the government given the continual delays that we will need to wait and see it to believe it,” Ozanne said.   

“Personally I remain extremely concerned that no party explicitly mentioned the importance of ensuring religious conversion practices – by far the most common form of “conversion therapy” in the UK today – are covered in the ban.  

Audience at the PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception
PinkNews Pride Receptions are hosted in all four nations of the UK during Pride Month. (PinkNews)

“The general public will, like us, be furious if this turns out to be a ban in name only after years and years of procrastination and delay.”

Ian Duncan, Baron Duncan of Springbank, told PinkNews he thought the government would have already achieved the aim of banning conversion therapy already. 

“Theresa May was talking about that gosh, years and years ago and it wasn’t controversial,” he said. 

“So why have we not done that? And why is there a debate about it still?”

Wednesday’s PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception was hosted in the State Rooms of Speaker’s House and was introduced by Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle. The evening also saw mayor of London Sadiq Khan condemn the “abhorrent” views towards the LGBTQ+ community of some US presidential hopefuls.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle introduces the PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception
Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle. (PinkNews)

It also saw speeches from executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust, Lady Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Daisy Cooper and co-leader of the Green Party, Carla Denyer.

The event recognises the immense contribution of the LGBTQ+ community in England in advance of the 2023 PinkNews Awards later in the year.

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