Conversion therapy ban dominates Westminster Pride month debate

21, June 2023

It came as no surprise that the issue of conversion therapy dominated last week’s ‘Pride month’ debate in Parliament.

MPs from across the House asked the Minister when the draft conversion practices Bill would be published.

“Very shortly” was the response from Equalities Minister Stuart Andrew.

In his remarks, the Minister commented:

“It is key that we end any practice that falsely claims to cure or change LGBT people. Let me make it perfectly clear: such practices are harmful, and they do not work. I know that many Members have frustrations about the delay. I am personally very committed to this issue, and have campaigned on it for many years. That is why we intend to publish the draft legislation very shortly to ban this targeted threat to our LGBT citizens.”

Following an intervention from Peter Gibson MP, who asked: “Just how much longer do we have to wait?”, the Minister reiterated: “As I have said, I share my hon. Friend’s frustration. If I have my way, it will be very shortly.”

Such delays were predictable considering the draft Bill will be a legislative minefield.

LGBT activists pushing for a conversion therapy ban say the new legislation is needed to deal with torture and abuse.

We heard that again during last week’s debate.

MP Elliot Colburn, in his opening remarks, told the Chamber: “… every single day in the UK, right now, people are being subjected to dehumanising torture—that is essentially what conversion practices amount to—but they are without legal recourse to justice because those practices are perfectly legal at the moment.”

But this is simply not true.

Barbaric practices such as electroshock therapy and corrective rape are not legal in this country. And if a situation involving “dehumanising torture” was uncovered, the law is fully equipped to deal with it.

Or does Mr Colburn, like many of his LGBT colleagues and friends, believe that ordinary church practices such as prayer and pastoral care are abusive?

Does he think that a loving parent having a tough conversion with their child about a decision to transition is “dehumanising torture” that should be criminalised?

Angela Eagle MP told the Chamber, “every day of delay from this Government puts more vulnerable, usually young, people at risk from this highly damaging form of psychological abuse”.

Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Anneliese Dodds MP, also described conversion therapy as “abuse”.

She said: “We need an inclusive ban of such practices in all their forms for all LGBT people, and of course, we can do that while protecting the provision of legitimate counselling and talking therapies.”

The conversion therapy ban is not about criminalising torture and abuse because torture and abuse are already illegal.

Activists want new legislation to criminalise prayer, even if it’s “gentle and non-coercive”..

They believe “spiritual guidance” is conversion therapy and want to criminalise it.

Those pushing for a ban want to criminalise any conversations that don’t affirm the individual’s chosen sexuality or gender.

But to satisfy the demands of LGBT activists and outlaw the ordinary work of churches and family discussions, the Government would seriously risk breaching laws protecting freedom of speech, religion and family.

The Government is choosing to walk an impossible legislative tightrope.

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