LGBTQ+ activists condemn government for dropping conversion therapy ban from King’s Speech

LGBTQ+ activists and organisations have shared their disappointment at a proposals for a conversion therapy ban not being included in King Charles III’s first King’s Speech.

LGBTQ+ organisations and activists have branded the government’s decision to pull the conversion therapy ban proposal from the King’s Speech “frightful negligence” and “heart-breakingly disappointing”.

The King’s Speech, which sets out the programme of legislation that the government intends to pursue in the forthcoming parliamentary session, is set to take place at about 11.30am in the House of Lords on Tuesday (7 November). 

Following long-term promises from the Conservatives to include the proposal in the speech, Rishi Sunak faced “intense” pressure from some MPs to withdraw it. 

A press release, published on the 4 November, made no mention of conversion therapy, which then prime minister Theresa May first promised to outlaw five years ago. 

Conversion therapy refers to efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Over the last five years, successive Tory prime ministers have dropped, reinstated, U-turned and delayed plans to outlaw the practice.

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‘Callous disregard’

Jayne Ozanne, founder of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, told PinkNews: “I am angered but sadly not surprised by the government’s decision to drop a ban on conversion practices. 

“The prime minister has shown a callous disregard for LGBT+ lives of late and has chosen to prioritise listening to perpetrators over that of engaging with victims of abuse. 

“Most [of] Britain will, I know, be appalled by his decision to leave vulnerable LGBT+ people open to abuse by breaking his flagship promise to us, a community under siege. 

“I hope [people] will make their views known in the only way that the prime minister is likely to understand next year,” she added, referring to the general election which is likely to be held in 2024.

LGBT Humanists co-ordinator Nick Baldwin also condemned the government’s decision to drop the planned legislation from the King’s Speech.

“After so many years of inaction, it’s heart-breakingly disappointing that the government has failed to recommit to a so-called conversion therapy ban in [probably] the last King’s Speech before the general election,” he told PinkNews.

“We will continue to campaign for a ban that protects the whole LGBT community from the abhorrent practice.” 

Veteran activist Peter Tatchell, who described the Tory government as “the most cynical, opportunist and dishonest government in my lifetime”, told PinkNews: “It’s been over five years of Tory lies and broken promises, leaving vulnerable LGBTs to suffer continuing conversion therapy abuses.

“We can never again trust the Tories. They make worthless pledges and give people false hope.”

‘An act of frightful negligence’

Robbie de Santos, Stonewall’s director of communications and external affairs, also voiced his frustration, saying: “The UK government’s failure to deliver a ban on conversion practices after five years of promises is an act of frightful negligence.

“In doing so, it has given the green light for the abuse against LGBTQ+ people to continue unchecked.

“Rather than getting mired in a cynical cultural war, the government should be making decisions based on what the evidence and experts said. England and Wales’ 1.5 million LGBTQ+ people, and their families, deserve better.”