We at Schools OUT UK are appalled that the government have once again let down the LGBT+ community with their latest statement on conversion therapy.
All the consultations — and there have been many — have made it clear that there is a clear majority who support a complete ban on conversion therapy.
So to now declare that they are only planning to ban conversion therapy for lesbian, gay and bisexual people and not others under the LGBT+ umbrella — including trans and asexual persons who are especially harmed by such ‘therapy’ — is a stinging betrayal and a reminder of the worst days of anti-LGBT+ prejudice in this country. Moreover, it completely ignores the Government’s own consultation processes.
We can only hope that the massive negative reaction to this will convince them to think again. They must speak out against harmful and coercive practices that unfairly target LGBT+ people across the spectrum.
Letter template to register opposition to this Government decision:
Dear _______ MP,
My name is ________ and I am one of your constituents.
I am writing to express my concern over the Government’s decision to not ban conversion therapy for all LGBT+ people. On the 31st March, ITV News reported that the UK Government was not planning to ban conversion therapy. In the same evening, many MPs pushed back against this and as a result, conversion therapy is going to be banned — but only for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. This is not a ban on conversion therapy.
The Government has previously made promises to ban conversion therapy for all LGBT+ people. According to Wikipedia, ‘Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual or their gender identity from transgender to cisgender using psychological, physical or spiritual interventions.’ These are deeply harmful practices that lack a reliable evidence-base of either safety or efficacy, which cause documented harm in LGBT+ people, and which rely on the outdated and offensive notion that LGBT+ people are sick and should be ‘cured’. The UN called for a global ban for conversion therapy in June 2020 after the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims concluded that ‘conversion therapy’ is a form of torture.
In the Independent Forensics Expert Group in their ‘Statement on Conversion Therapy’ (published May 2020) they stated that, ‘to our knowledge, there also are no credible scientific peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate that conversion therapy in any form is effective.’ Conversion therapy practices are abusive and coercive. They violate the human rights and dignity of LGBT+ people and lead to severe and long-lasting physical and psychological harm.
According to the UK Government’s National LGBT Survey (2018) which surveyed 108,000 people, 7% of LGBT+ people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy. 13% of transgender people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy and are more likely to be offered it in comparison to cisgender people (7%).
In a report released in 2020, they found that gender diverse people who have undergone Gender Identity Conversion Therapy (GICT) are more likely to report severe mental health problems than those who had not, with marked increases in suicide attempts and suicidal ideation. In the same report, at least half of the gender diverse people who had undergone GICT reported that it had worsened their romantic, family, community and peer relationships. There are other studies which support these findings, including this study which surveyed nearly 28,000 transgender people.
In more recent years we have seen the rights of transgender and gender diverse people crumbling in this country. While the Government refuses to ban conversion therapy for transgender people, it adds to the litany of broken promises successive Conservative Governments have presided over, including:
- failure to reform the Gender Recognition Act, despite a majority support for reform and the recommendations from the 2015 enquiry;
- scrapped plans for self-identification, despite this being previously promised in 2016; and
- failure to provide legal recognition of non-binary people.
To explictly not include trans people as part of the conversion therapy ban reveals the UK Government’s apparent contempt for transgender people’s rights and their dignity in our society. Furthermore, it shows contempt for the Government’s own consultation processes and the promises made by successive Conservative governments in this regard.
From 2016 to 2019, transphobic hate crime rose by a massive 81%. This shameful indictment of our society coincided with the increase in transphobic rhetoric in the UK press and online. The Government must share some of the blame in this and act now to rectify the worsening situation for trans people.
In light of this, I ask you to write to the Minister for Women and Equalities and call on her to ensure that any draft legislation to ban conversion practices includes the following minimum provisions:
- That it protects all LGBT+ people, not just lesbian, gay and bisexual people. This includes transgender, non-binary and gender diverse people and other minority sexual/romantic orientations such as asexual, pansexual and aromantic people
- That it immediately bans all conversion therapy-related practices, in all settings, including formal and informal healthcare settings, cultural settings, religious settings and community settings
- That, in recognition that it is impossible to consent to abuse and coercion, it does not include any form of ‘consent loophole’
Will you use your position as an MP to help ban conversion therapy practices for all LGBT+ people, not just lesbian, gay and bisexual people?
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.
I look forward to hearing back from you and having these concerns addressed.