Keir Starmer promises trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban under Labour

Keir Starmer speaking at an event.

LGBTQ+ activists have praised Keir Starmer for promising to bring in a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban if Labour wins the next general election. 

Labour leader Starmer vowed to tackle “psychologically damaging abuse” by bringing in a law that would extend the proposed safety net to transgender people. 

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, of course, impossible.

According to The Express, Starmer, speaking to LGBT+ Labour on Tuesday (30 January), said: “We’ll implement a full, trans-inclusive, ban on all forms of conversion therapy.”

He added: “We fully support the view that conversion therapy is psychologically damaging abuse”.

LGBT Humanists co-ordinator Nick Baldwin responded to Starmer’s latest statement on conversion therapy by telling PinkNews: “I commend Keir Starmer for his promise to safeguard the rights and wellbeing of vulnerable LGBT people. Banning conversion therapy is not only a matter of legal necessity but also a moral imperative.

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“It sends a clear message that the rights and dignity, and ultimate safety, of LGBT people should be protected in law.” 

A sign reading 'Conversion therapy is violence'
A conversion therapy ban was first promised by Theresa May half a decade ago. (Unsplash)

Jayne Ozanne, the founder of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, said she was glad to hear of the Labour leader’s pledge, which would “cover the one group that we know are most at risk: trans people.”

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She continued: “Contrary to the fear-mongering that those wanting to continue these harmful practices are stoking, no parent, teacher or religious leader will ever be stopped from having challenging conversations with those in their care.

“What will be banned, however, are practices conducted by those with a pre-determined mind set, who say that someone can never be trans or gay. The ‘war on trans’ must stop.  It is putting lives at risk for political gain, and will be viewed poorly by the electorate.”

Starmer has previously been criticised for taking Labour backwards on trans rights: Last year, he scrapped the party’s commitment to self-ID for trans peoplewhipped Labour MPs to abstain on the Tories’ unprecedented use of a Section 35 order to block the SNP’s gender reform bill, and described a woman as an ‘adult female’.

Keir Starmer and Labour Party banners
Keir Starmer is the current leader of the Labour Party. (Credit: Getty Images)

His comments on conversion therapy come just a day after one his most senior colleagues, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, backed the idea of housing trans patients in separate hospital wards rather than ward that correspond with their gender identity.

In parliament on Monday (29 January), Starmer promised to crackdown on all categories of hate crime, with those found guilty facing longer jail sentences.

“We’ll strengthen the law, so every category of hate crime is treated as an aggravated offence,” he vowed.

Starmer went on to promise a modernisation of the Gender Recognition Act, following Scotland voting through its reform bill, allowing trans people to gain legal recognition without the need for a medical diagnosis.

Despite the party backtracking on previous commitments to self-ID, he insisted that Labour has defended LGBTQ+ rights. 

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Last August, data journalist Ell Folan claimed that, under Starmer’s leadership, the Labour Party has become increasingly out of step with its voter base on the issue of transgender rights.

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