Mae Martin, Russell Tovey, Jade Thirlwall and many others demand UK ban on conversion therapy

Russell Tovey, Mae Martin and Jade Thirlwall against a rainbow coloured backdrop featuring British prime minister Rishi Sunak.

A host of stars, including actor and comedian Mae Martin, and musicians Rina Sawayama and Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall, have called on British prime minister Rishi Sunak to finally ban conversion therapy.

A ban was promised in 2018 by then prime minister Theresa May, but five years and three prime ministers later, a trans-inclusive ban is yet to materialise, despite it receiving cross-party support.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Sunak would include outlawing the harmful practice as part of the King’s Speech on 7 November. Days later, it emerged that he planned to ditch the trans-inclusive ban, owing to “intense” lobbying by anti-trans Tory MP Miriam Cates.

Now, celebrities from across the entertainment world have joined forces with LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall to demand the PM takes immediate action.

Rishi Sunak
Celebrities have accused Rishi Sunak of failing LGBTQ+ people. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

In an open letter, stars including A Strange Loop actor Alan Cumming, TV host Rylan and trans author Munroe Bergdorf condemned the prime minister for showing a “callous disregard for the harm faced by LGBTQ+ people” by failing to enforce a ban.

“Conversion practices are abhorrent forms of abuse targeted at LGBTQ+ people for being who they are. Your government promised to ban this abuse, yet it appears you will break this promise,” the letter begins.

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“Instead of taking decisive action to legislate, as countries such as Canada, New Zealand, France and Spain have done, plans have [been] delayed time and again.

“You are giving the green light for abusers to continue unhindered. You are letting down survivors and victims of abuse across this country.”

The list of celebrities who have signed the letter also includes Looking actor Russell Tovey, The XX singer Romy, YouTuber Daniel Howell, TV’s Dr Ranj and author Juno Dawson.

Singer Rina Sawayama (left) and TV host Rylan (right).
Rina Sawayama and Rylan are among the celebrities who have called for an end to conversion therapy. (Getty)

Drag Race UK stars Ella Vaday, Divina de Campo, Pixie Polite, Sum Ting Wong, Sister Sister, Charity Kase and Jonbers Blonde have also added their names.

According to the government’s 2018 National LGBT Survey, seven per cent of queer people in the UK have been offered or undergone the “unethical, harmful and ineffective” procedure which aims to change or “cure” people of their sexuality or gender identity.

At the end of the letter, the UK stars take aim at Sunak and his government for its wider inaction on LGBTQ+ issues, and for stoking a culture war that has led to queer people in Britain feeling less safe.

“We have seen rising hate crimes, debilitating lack of access to life-saving healthcare, and doubts cast on support for inclusive education in schools,” the letter reads. “From comments that undermine the rights of LGBTQ+ refugees to asylum, to mockery of the trans community by senior politicians, LGBTQ+ people in the UK feel less safe today.

“LGBTQ+ people deserve a government with the will to protect them from harm.”

Speaking about his decision to sign the letter, Cumming, who has appeared in films from James Bond adventure GoldenEye, and X2, to The Tempest, and TV shows including Doctor Who and The L Word, said: “It’s not just about banning conversion therapy, it’s about sending a message to young queer people that their government does not believe there’s anything wrong with them, and that they have no need to convert or change.

“Until conversion therapy is banned, the UK government is sending a message that it is inherently homophobic.”