Government's landmark LGBT+ conference cancelled amid conversion therapy row

5 April 2022, 21:09 | Updated: 11 April 2022, 08:58

The landmark Safe To Be Me conference has reportedly been cancelled
The landmark Safe To Be Me conference has reportedly been cancelled. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The Government's landmark international LGBT+ conference, due to take place in June, has been cancelled amid backlash over its handling of conversion therapy bans.

The Safe To Be Me conference, which had been scheduled for June, will not go ahead after at least 100 organisations pulled out.

More than 80 LGBT+ groups and more than 20 HIV groups had announced plans to boycott the event.

They said they would not take part unless Boris Johnson reverted to his promise for a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy.

It would have been the first conference of its kind in the UK and coincided with the 50th anniversary of London’s first pride marches.

Conservative MP Dehenna Davison has expressed dismay at the decision to cancel the LGBT+ conference.

"We had such a huge opportunity to prove the UK (and the Conservative Party) is a defender of freedom," she posted on Twitter.

"As a Conservative member of the LGBT+ community, it is so wrong it has come to this."

It comes after the UK's LGBT+ business champion resigned "with a heavy heart" over the Government's "profoundly shocking" position on banning conversion therapy for transgender people.

Iain Anderson said trust and belief in the Government's commitment to LGBT+ rights has been damaged, after a series of U-turns on plans to introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy.

Last week, it was initially announced that ministers were scrapping plans to ban the practice, sparking a furious backlash.

A government spokesman confirmed that they were looking instead at ways of preventing it through existing law and "other non-legislative measures".

However, within hours the PM was said to have "changed his mind" and a senior Government source was quoted as saying legislation would be introduced.

The Government now says it is committed to a legislative ban, but that separate work is required to "consider the issue of transgender conversion therapy further".

When announcing the initial consultation into the conversion therapy ban, the Government had said the protections would cover people in terms of their sexual orientation and gender identity.