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Response to Government U-turn on conversion practice legislation

Leaked documents revealed late on Thursday evening suggests that No. 10 was planning to abandon proposed conversion practice legislation.

Boris Johnson has subsequently confirmed that legislation will go ahead, but that it will only cover sexuality and not gender.

Gendered Intelligence is a member of the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition, a collective of LGBT+ organisations and faith leaders working to eradicate these outdated and cruel practices. Since before Theresa May proposed a ban in 2018 conversion practices have been a matter of serious concern for our organisation, with young trans and non-binary people being disproportionately likely to be targeted.

We understand that the Government Equalities Office was not aware of this briefing, and that there has been a substantial backlash both within the Conservative Party and across the UK. We hope that the strength and unity of this response will help No. 10 to see sense and return to plans for a total and fully inclusive ban on conversion practices in all forms.

There is no justifiable reason to abandon this ban. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) produced a Memorandum of Understanding in 2016 that makes clear that conversion practices based on sexuality or gender are “unethical, potentially harmful and [are] not supported by evidence”. The NHS and Royal College of Psychiatrists have likewise condemned them. The only reason for abandoning this ban – and particularly for singling out trans and non-binary people for exemptions – is to stoke the ‘culture war’ with attacks on LGBT+ rights. We note that the recent attempt to restrict abortion care and comments made by Johnson in regard to trans people suggest a similarly reactionary agenda.

We know the consequences of conversion practices from Galop research published earlier this year: self-harm, sexual violence, assault. We know from the Government’s own National LGBT Survey that victims are likely to be targeted in spaces where they ought to be protected: healthcare settings, faith communities, family environments. And we know that trans and non-binary people – including the young trans and non-binary people for whom we care – are most at risk. To allow conversion practices of any kind to continue in law is to endorse violence against marginalised communities. To exclude trans and non-binary people from legal protections is to allow a legalised form of torture for a specific group of people.

We hope for a positive outcome, but we know that this is hard news for all of us. We call upon the community to continue coming together in a show of unity and strength, and we implore those outside the community – particularly our colleagues elsewhere in the third sector and in healthcare – to join us in demanding that the Government recommit to a total and inclusive ban. Whatever the outcome of today, Gendered Intelligence will continue to work with the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition to end these practices in our time.

If you or anyone you know have been targeted with conversion practices, you can reach the Galop conversion therapy helpline on 0800 130 3335 and the domestic abuse helpline on 0800 999 5428.

We send our love and solidarity to all trans and non-binary people.

Editors: email publicengagement@genderedintelligence.co.uk 

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