Conversion therapy ban to finally be debated in parliament – but not because of the government

A protestor holds a sign reading "time to ban conversion therapy."

A new bill aiming to ban conversion therapy is to be debated in parliament, despite the issue being absent from the King’s Speech.

The bipartisan Private Member’s Bill “Conversion Therapy Prohibition (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)” was announced to have been drawn first in the House of Lords ballot on Thursday (9 November).

Introduced by the vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, Baroness Burt of Solihull, the bill would set a blanket ban on the harmful practice if it receives sufficient support.

So-called conversion therapy refers to attempts by anti-LGBTQ+ groups or individuals to forcibly change the sexuality or gender identity of an individual, which is impossible.

A conversion therapy ban was first promised by Theresa May half a decade ago. (Unsplash)

In the UK, most conversion therapy practice is typically rooted in anti-LGBTQ+ religious beliefs.

The human rights group Humanist UK applauded the introduction of the bill and the announcement that it would be debated in Parliament, saying that the practice can result in “lasting mental scars, self-harm, and even suicide.”

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Humanist UK director of Public Affairs and Policy, Kathy Riddick, said: “After the bitter disappointment of its omission from the King’s Speech, we are so pleased to see that a ban on conversion therapy is going to be debated this Parliamentary session after all.”

A press release regarding the first King’s Speech by King Charles II made no mention of a conversion therapy ban after prime minister Rishi Sunak was pressured to include a mention of a draft bill.

An activist holds up a sign reading 'no more loopholes ban conversion therapy' during the London Trans+ Pride march where advocates call for trans and LGBTQ+ people to be safe from persecution
Conversion therapy has been banned in several other countries. (Getty)

“LGBT people continue to be harmed while the Government have been dithering over what to do,” Riddick continued. “We would like to congratulate Baroness Burt on the initiative to get things moving.

“We hope that parliamentarians across both houses will get on board with banning these worthless, harmful practices.”

It has been over five years since the Government first announced a commitment to ban conversion therapy under former prime minister Theresa May.

After years of inaction and several prime ministers, the Government claimed in January 2023 that a draft Bill would be published.

But after almost a full year following the announcement, several LGBTQ+ rights groups condemned Parliament for continued delays to the publication of the bill.

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