Conversion therapy law opposed by gay rights campaigners

2, February 2024

Laws against ‘conversion therapy’ purport to prevent abuse of gay people.

The narrative is usually painted like this: “Some people are out to target and attack gay people, trying to force them to change from one sort of person to another. They employ horrible, often torturous methods, like electroshock treatments. Gay people – often children – are harmed for the rest of their lives.”

Well, who wouldn’t support a law to prevent that scenario playing out in real life? But is that really what is going on?

It turns out that it is often gay rights campaigners who oppose this line of thinking most strongly. Take Malcolm Clark for example. Here’s what he wrote just last week in Spiked Online about the Scottish Government’s proposals:

“the government’s latest policy … betrays a cavalier attitude towards facts and evidence”.

“The Scottish government says that a conversion-therapy ban is desperately needed to stop LGBT people from being beaten or bullied into changing their sexual orientation or gender identity. But these claims are a veneer to mask the true substance of the bill”.

“What is shocking is how little evidence the Scottish government has provided to back up its claims of widespread attempts at conversion of the ‘LGBTQI+ community’.”

Malcolm Clark is one of the original founders of LGB Alliance. They would presumably have little time for the biblical sexual ethic.

But many gay commentators, like Malcolm Clark, have become concerned that radical beliefs on transgenderism are being encouraged among children. They agree with Christians that young people are being horribly and permanently damaged by these deeply-flawed ideas.

Significantly, they see how a new law on ‘conversion therapy’ would ride roughshod over their own freedom of belief. Not their religious beliefs, but their ‘gender-critical’ beliefs as they have become known. If they can’t speak out, they can’t help people to think again about the claims of trans ideologues.

In that sense, those most actively engaged in issues like gender and sex are often as aware as Christians are that their beliefs, and their ability to speak the truth in love, are coming under attack by a law like that proposed in Scotland. If transgender ideology is a make-believe world, putting it on the statute book in the form of a ‘conversion therapy’ law requires us all to endorse the fairy tale, and put more people on the conveyor belt to damaging drugs and surgery.

And that is precisely what a new law of this sort would do. Those demanding it are not really looking for a way of protecting marginalised people (although no doubt many are well-meaning). No, they want a law which requires everyone to blindly accept whatever a person says about their own identity, without any real ability to challenge it.

Malcolm Clark is not the first to point to the flaws in the evidence base. Indeed, Let Us Pray has made similar points many times before. The claims of activists simply don’t tally with any real-world analysis.

The UK’s laws on verbal and physical abuse are very robust. Any coercion or any attack on LGBT people can already be dealt with by our police and social services. We can all be thankful that our laws strongly protect everyone.

Other gay rights campaigners have raised concerns about the problems this sort of law could bring. Perhaps most notable was when Simon Fanshawe, a founder of controversial charity Stonewall who has now become one of its sternest critics, said the UK Government should put the plans on pause to avoid the dangerous consequences.

Christians and gay campaigners may disagree over some things but we are all in the same boat when it comes to a law which threatens to trample our ability to have harmless conversations with the people we love.

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