Queen’s speech: Government sets out plans to ban conversion therapy

11 May 2021, 15:49

The Queen's speech outlined the Government's plans for the forthcoming parliamentary session
The Queen's speech outlined the Government's plans for the forthcoming parliamentary session. Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

The Government has committed to banning “coercive and abhorrent” LGBT conversion therapy.

The plans, which were set out in the Queen’s speech today, will begin with a consultation to ensure that the practice can be addressed whilst protecting freedom of speech, and will then be introduced in legislation as soon as possible.

Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss said: "As a global leader on LGBT rights, this Government has always been committed to stamping out the practice of conversion therapy.

"We want to make sure that people in this country are protected, and these proposals mean nobody will be subjected to coercive and abhorrent conversion therapy.”

Conversion therapy is any practice seeking to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and can include anything from talking therapies to physical violence.

Whilst many forms of conversion therapy are illegal under other laws, the planned ban will aim to ensure it is illegal in itself.

News of the proposed ban has been welcomed by many, with the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Dr Adrian James saying the organisation “fully supports” it.

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, also spoke out in support of the plans, saying: "We recognise the difficulties in defining conversion therapies and look forward to working closely with the Government to develop a viable definition and subsequent legislation.

"We want to prevent abuses of power and ensure that issues of consent are made absolutely central to any future legislation."

However, whilst LGBT charity Stonewall welcomed the plans, they also called news of a consultation “concerning”.

Chief executive Nancy Kelley said: "We don't need a consultation to know that all practices that seek to convert, suppress, cure or change us are dangerous, abusive and must be banned.

"Lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex and ace communities have been waiting almost three years for the UK Government to follow through on their promise to ban all conversion practices, and any delay leaves us at further risk of abuse."

There are also concerns that the focus on ‘coercive’ behaviour leaves a dangerous loophole, something that Downing Street denied, saying it would ensure that all action is “proportionate and effective”.

The Government has also commissioned research into the scope of conversion practices, and announced new funding to ensure that victims can get the support they need.