Westminster Government confirms ban on ‘conversion therapy’ in Queen’s Speech

10, May 2022

Legislation to ban conversion therapy will be brought forward in the coming months, the Government has confirmed.

In the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the Government’s legislative agenda for the year ahead, it was confirmed that: “Legislation will also be introduced to ban conversion therapy.”

Let Us Pray spokesperson Simon Calvert responded:

“By pushing forward with a ban the Government risks handing activists a veto on the ordinary, innocent, everyday practices of churches.”

The Queen’s speech does not itself give any more detail about the legislation, but explanatory notes show the Government intends to push forward with its plans. There had been confusion after a No.10 memo on dropping the plans was leaked, only for the Prime Minister to U-turn on the decision under pressure from LGBT activists.

The legislation will apply to England and Wales; Scottish and Northern Irish politicians plan to bring in their own bans.

What will be banned?

The aim of the ban is to outlaw harmful practices against LGB people. But evidence to justify a new law is severely lacking. Often-cited abusive practices, such as ‘corrective rape’ and ‘electroshock treatment’ are clearly already illegal.

Instead, many activists are seeking to criminalise the ordinary work of churches – including prayer, preaching and pastoral care relating to sexual ethics. Activists have been clear that such a ban should outlaw advocating celibacy or encouraging people not to have sex outside marriage.

A similar law in Victoria, Australia outlaws “not affirming someone’s gender identity” and “a parent refusing to support” their child’s request for puberty blockers.

Such consequences of a ban have not gone unnoticed by the Government. The sensitive memo leaked in March said the proposals would be dropped, calling the evidence base ‘weak’. Under pressure the Government said it would again progress plans on sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

But activists insist transgenderism must also be covered and will try to persuade Parliament to amend the Bill. Non-religious professionals and parents have previously called on the Government to pause the Bill and ‘not rush through ill-judged legislation’.

It’s important to note that the mainstream Christian sexual ethic is at risk of being outlawed, regardless of whether gender identity is included in the ban.

Simon Calvert, spokesperson for Let Us Pray, said:

“Everyone deserves to be protected from verbal and physical abuse. But No.10’s leaked memo on conversion therapy confirmed that LGBT people are already protected by existing law, a point made by former No.10 Director of Legislative Affairs, Nikki da Costa.

“The memo also admitted that ‘the evidence base for further legislative measures on conversion therapy is weak’. There is always a danger of unintended consequences in any piece of legislation but legislating blind, in the absence of an evidence base, is especially dangerous.

“A leading human rights QC has warned that an ill-considered conversion therapy law could breach fundamental human rights, cutting across innocent, every-day Christian practices such as prayer, pastoral conversations, preaching and even parenting.

“Leading conversion therapy activist Jayne Ozanne wants the ban to include teaching abstinence and ‘gentle, non-coercive prayer’. Humanists UK even want to widen the ban to include ‘repentance’ – a core Christian practice.

“By pushing forward with a ban the Government risks handing these activists a veto on the ordinary, innocent, everyday practices of churches.”

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