UK to include trans people in conversion therapy ban

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On Tuesday 18 November, the UK government promised to include transgender people in draft legislation banning conversion therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation or gender identity.

The U-turn move was welcomed by gay lawmakers and LGBTQ+ groups. It comes after the government has long stalled on passing such legislation and sought to exclude transgender people.

Already under threat

Culture minister Michelle Donelan said she will publish a draft bill banning conversion therapy in England and Wales soon. Although she failed to specify a date, she stated that it:

will protect everyone, including those targeted on the basis of their sexuality, or being transgender.

However, she added the proviso that the legislation should not prevent parents or clinicians having “legitimate conversations” about “gender-related distress” among children or young adults.

This ambivalence was reflected by the notably anti-LGBTQ+ equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch. The Telegraph was quick to report that:

Read on...

The equalities minister is to write to all Tory MPs to insist that a ban on trans conversion therapy must not criminalise parents, as a backlash against the plans grew.

In a highly unusual move, it is understood that Kemi Badenoch intends to set out her concerns over the proposed legislation, announced in the Commons on Tuesday.

She will warn that legitimate conversations between parents and trans children must not be outlawed and that freedom of religion must be protected.

A long-awaited ban

The announcement came as the UK government is using its powers to block a bill passed in the Scottish parliament that makes it easier for people to self-identify as transgender. Some commentators have suggested that the announcement was an attempt to deflect attention.

Conversion therapy is an umbrella term for interventions to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. There have long been calls to ban the practice. In fact, it was outlawed by the UK’s main associations of psychologists and psychiatrists in 2015 as “unethical and potentially harmful”.

Activists welcomed the government announcement while saying it was long overdue. Stonewall, for instance, commented that:

We have faced almost five years of delays and broken promises. The UK Gov must publish the Bill and an imminent timetable ASAP.

The UK government presented a bill in 2021 that proposed a jail term of up to five years for those who carry out conversion therapies on minors. However, it did not penalise adults deemed to have freely consented.

U-turn and turn again

In March last year, the government said it had dropped plans for a ban. It then swiftly reversed course and promised to implement a version of the draft law.

As the Canary reported in April of the same year:

In the latest of a long run of U-turns, the government backtracked on promises about conversion therapy. In 2018, Theresa May promised to abolish conversion therapy – as did Boris Johnson later on. However, last week, Johnson performed a characteristic U-turn and set the government on course to ban conversion therapy for gay people, but not for trans people.

In May, the government said it would bring forward a ban. This came in response to an online petition specifically about the inclusion of transgender people.

For now, it remains to be seen how the ban will be applied if – as Badenoch seems set to request – it does not criminalise parents who attempt to put their children through conversion therapy.

Featured image via Unsplash/Denin Lawley

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse

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  • Show Comments
    1. I suffered conversion therapy in borstal in the early 1989s. My choice, either stay in the infirmary but join the voluntary scheme. Or be returned to the dormitory where 20 of the inmates had raped me a week earlier.

      This was electro aversion therapy meaning being shown erotic and sexual images of men and recieving an electric shock if i became aroused.

      I was actually a Transwoman living as a gay man since i was attracted to men but age 16 years i was made a criminal by a law which made age of consent for Gay men 21 years.

      I knew who i fancied and it was not women.

      As a Male To Female Trans i wanted surgery as i was already often living and dressing as a women. I had socially transitioned.

      My rather crude argument was in sex i was the tevieving partner but was forced to use the only hole i had since i did not have a vagina so my sexuality was affected by “the wrong hole” syndrome.

      I never even got to see a psychiatrist as the gender clinic at charing cross considered me jailbait, too young at age 16 years and the Tavistock did not even exist.

      Through friends i learned that i could only apply to be reffered to the clinic when i was 21 years by my GP.

      But, when i hadcasked my GO to refer me he physically attacked me, punching me in tje face knocking me to the floor then physically throwing me out of his office.

      Also, even after waiting the often 2 years minimum to see the psychiatrist i would need 2 years of appointments before he would ptescribe hormones which i would have to pay for. After a few more years he might give me a diagnosis and contact a surgeon. If i was teffeted i then had to wait for more time before paying for sugery.
      The total cost was £35,000
      Hence my reason for turning to prostitution.
      To give me a sex life while i waited years and to save up the exorbitant amount i would need.

      As it happens i was arrested and sent to borstal.

      £8000 of my savings were stolen by the police.
      The other £24,000 i had saved i spent trying to help young rent boys off the streets.

      Times haven’t changed.
      in 2014 i went to a gender clinic. I was diagnosed.

      I was tefused hormones because of medical conditions i have but i think it was just bigotry on the part of the endocrinologist.

      I have discoveted in the last 8 years that a great amount of Trans pay for orivate treatment both hormones and surgery. So it’s much the same as the 1980s
      Huge waiting lists, massive times waiting, then paying loads of money.

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