New law will outlaw harmful conversion therapy for transgender as well as gay people

Ministers confirm a new law will outlaw harmful conversion therapy for transgender as well as gay people after backlash at Boris Johnson’s plan to water down legislation preventing the religious practice

  • Previously ban was only due to affect conversion therapy targeting gay people 
  • But Michelle Donelan today said scope would be expanded to include trans
  • Culture Secretary said it would not criminalise ‘legitimate conversations’

A ban on harmful conversion therapy will be extended to cover transgender people, the government confirmed today.

Under plans unveiled by Boris Johnson last year the practice of trying to coerce someone into trying to alter their sexuality was to be outlawed.

But he stopped short of promising to bring in a ban on the therapy – mainly carried out by religious groups – for those who alter their legal gender, sparking criticism from Tory MPs and rights groups.

Today Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan confirmed in a written statement that a new bill would bring in a new law banning conversion therapy targeting both groups by October.

She said it would retain sufficient flexibility to avoid harming ‘the growing number of children and young adults experiencing gender related distress, through inadvertently criminalising or chilling legitimate conversations parents or clinicians may have with their children.’

Tory MP Alicia Kearns, who campaigned for the change, said: ‘We now have a timeline to end these heinous practices.’  

Today Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan confirmed in a written statement that a new bill would bring in a new law banning conversion therapy targeting both groups by October.

Today Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan confirmed in a written statement that a new bill would bring in a new law banning conversion therapy targeting both groups by October.

Under plans unveiled by Boris Johnson last year the practice of trying to coerce someone into trying to alter their sexuality was to be outlawed.

Under plans unveiled by Boris Johnson last year the practice of trying to coerce someone into trying to alter their sexuality was to be outlawed.

Tory MP Alicia Kearns, who campaigned for the change, said: 'We now have a timeline to end these heinous practices.'

Tory MP Alicia Kearns, who campaigned for the change, said: ‘We now have a timeline to end these heinous practices.’

The Government had previously held back against including trans conversion therapy in the law but there has been widespread cross party support for a total ban.

Leaked documents in March last year showed Boris Johnson’s administration had quietly planned to drop a total ban, which was developed by Theresa May in 2018.

After an angry fallout, the Government u-turned and announced a ban on conversion therapy for sexual orientation only in last year’s Queen’s Speech.

As well as campaigning from LGBTQ+ groups such as Stonewall and the LGBT Consortium, figures including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams wrote to the prime minister last year urging him to include trans people in the ban.

In a statement today Ms Donelan said: ‘We recognise the strength of feeling on the issue of harmful conversion practices and remain committed to protecting people from these practices and making sure they can live their lives free from the threat of harm or abuse.’

She said it is right the issue is tackled ‘through a dedicated and tailored legislative approach’, adding: ‘The Bill will protect everyone, including those targeted on the basis of their sexuality, or being transgender.’

Ms Donelan said the draft Bill will be scrutinised to help ensure the legislation does not cause ‘unintended consequences’.

She added: ‘The legislation must not – through a lack of clarity – harm the growing number of children and young adults experiencing gender-related distress through inadvertently criminalising or chilling legitimate conversations parents or clinicians may have with their children.’

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