Campaigners fear conversion therapy ban is ‘dropped’ as government refuses to respond: ‘Do they take us all for fools?’

Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition chairperson Jayne Ozanne is angry and frustrated.

Campaigners’ fears may have been realised as Downing Street says it has no update on the long-awaited conversion therapy ban, which many believe won’t be fulfilled as promised.

In a comment to PinkNews, a spokesperson for No 10 said the Conservative government has no statement or update regarding its previous vow to outline plans of the delayed UK ban on so-called conversion therapy practices.

The government previously vowed to outline plans to MPs, who would then scrutinise and refine the bill, in time for the King’s Speech on 7 November. 

Conversion therapy refers to efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity in a bid to “cure” them. 

Jayne Ozanne, chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition and herself a conversion therapy survivor, told PinkNews: “No comment is a comment. It is clear they are just trying to run the clock down.

“Do they take us all for fools? This has been a very long journey and they have obviously dropped their commitment.”

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‘We are beyond disappointed’

LGBT Humanists expressed similar frustration, with coordinator Nick Baldwin telling PinkNews: “We are beyond disappointed by the government’s continued inaction on banning conversion therapy, while LGBT people continue to be subjected to such harmful practices.

“The government’s window of opportunity to fulfil its promise to ban conversion therapy before the next general election is getting slimmer and slimmer.

“We will continue to campaign for a conversion therapy ban. And it must be one that is inclusive for all the whole LGBT community.”

Meanwhile, also commenting on the latest delay, ITV News editor Paul Brand took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to claim that the ban is “dead” and it is “just a matter of time” until the government confirms this.

The lack of response from Downing Street follows campaigners protesting the lack of action on Thursday outside No 10, with many saying time has run out to stop the cruel practice.

Campaigners, led by LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, demanded that prime minister Rishi Sunak fulfil his promise to bring an end to the practice, while the charity delivered more than 2,000 postcards as part of its campaign criticising the PM over the continued delay 

Coinciding with the protest, leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, has refused to repeat the government’s previous promise, despite committing to it in a letter to MPs, which PinkNews has seen, in March.

Despite promises of the draft bill, with equalities minister Baroness Williams reiterating the government’s commitment to end conversion therapy at the Government Equalities Office LGBT Leadership Summit in February 2020, Sunak’s family summer holiday in California – where conversation therapy is banned – further delayed progress as paperwork sat on his desk for weeks. 

A ban on conversion therapy was first promised by the Conservative government in 2018 under Theresa May’s leadership, but despite her insistence on trans-inclusive legislation, her successor, Boris Johnson, later opted to push forward with a law that only protected gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

The delayed ban is thought to be inclusive of trans people, but it’s understood the bill contains a loophole for “consenting adults”, despite experts and advocates warning the government that such a clause could render the legislation useless.

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