50 LGBTQ+ organisations urge Keir Starmer to ban conversion therapy as he becomes prime minister

50 LGBTQ+ organisations have signed an open letter to new Labour prime minister Keir Starmer, urging him to finally ban conversion therapy.

In January, Starmer pledged to bring in a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy if Labour won the general election. The abusive practice refers to attempts by anti-LGBTQ+ groups or individuals to forcibly change the sexuality or gender identity of an individual.

With the Labour leader now firmly in 10 Downing Street, over 50 LGBTQ+ organisations have sent a letter to Starmer to “congratulate him on his ‘landmark victory’ & to urge him to act swiftly to fulfil his manifesto pledge”.

Sharing the open letter on X (formerly known as Twitter), the Chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, Jayne Ozanne, wrote: “Given Labour chastised Conservatives for 6+ year [sic] delay we expect quick action!”

The letter itself, addressed to Keir Starmer reads: “We urge you to move swiftly to bring forward this legislation, given that for far too long perpetrators have been acting with impunity – encouraged by the previous government’s reluctance to implement their promises.

“We recognise the hard work that Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP put into creating broad consensus across the Chamber and see his bill as a good place to start.”

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“Given the serious impact of these degrading practices, a ban must be without loopholes and cannot allow for exemptions of any form,” the statement continues, referencing the fact that the current bill proposed by the former Conservative government contains a ‘loophole’ for ‘consenting adults’.

“The Ban Converion Therapy Legal Forum, chaired by Baroness Helen Kennedy KC, has recommended how best this can be done in the Cooper Report, named after your friend Jonathan Cooper OBE who helped set it up. This is recommends a clear yet simple definition of ‘conversion therapy’ as any practice with a predetermined purpose that seeks to change, ‘cure’ or suppress a person sexual orientation and/ or general identity.”

It continues: “We stand ready and willing to meet with your Secretary of State for Equalities [Anneliese Dodds] and her team and to support them in this important work. We hope you will consider a package of measures that will ensure a final end to these practices with continued support for survivors alongside educational programs to service providers and safeguarding professionals.”

The letter has been signed by 50 LGBTQ+ organisations, including Amnesty International UK, Mermaids, Not a Phase, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and Queer Britain.

A ban on conversion practices was first promised by the Tory party in 2018 when then-prime minister Theresa May backed trans-inclusive legislation.

Her successor, Boris Johnson, later abandoned those plans, and opted to push forward with a law that only protected gay, lesbian and bisexual people. After a public backlash, the government again changed its mind, and announced the ban would be inclusive of trans people.

After Sunak put the trans-inclusive ban back on the table in 2023, Starmer then promised in January that the “psychologically damaging abuse” inflicted by conversion therapy would be ended for all LGBTQ+ individuals.

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