House of Lords to debate Bill that could criminalise Christians and parents

7, February 2024

This Friday (9 Feb 2024), the House of Lords will debate a proposed new law that could criminalise ordinary Christians and loving parents.

Baroness Burt’s ‘conversion therapy’ Bill seeks to outlaw attempts to “change” or “suppress a person’s expression of sexual orientation or gender identity”.

Reasonable as that might sound to some, the Bill contains no safeguard against the plethora of unintended consequences that has been brought to the attention of politicians.

This is not a religiously-neutral piece of legislation. Christians don’t see the Bible’s teaching on sexual ethics as ‘change’ or ‘suppression’. But activists use these very terms to describe orthodox church teaching.

And not only do these vocal campaigners have their eyes set on a law which targets Christians, but independent legal advice agrees this is precisely what would happen.

The Christian Institute commissioned one of the UK’s top human rights lawyers, Jason Coppel KC, to independently verify the risks of the Bill. His critique is devastating for those promoting it. He said:

“Put shortly, the Bill criminalises expressions of personal conviction even if they are made without expressions of hatred or intolerance, or improper purpose or coercion, or abuse of power.”

“The Bill would, if enacted, interfere with a number of rights protected by the ECHR. It would (by way of example) restrict the ability of gender-critical persons to express their beliefs; the ability of religious organisations to express their beliefs (both to the wider world, and within their own communities); and the ability of parents to counsel and bring up children in the way they believe to be right.”

“Such an approach runs contrary to the consistent case law of the European Court of Human Rights”.

Ultimately, this is not a piece of legislation which is likely to make it onto the statute book. As a Private Member’s Bill, it is very unlikely to be given the necessary Government support. But it is a clear signal of intent.

There has been a lot of interest in the Bill from members of the House of Lords. Almost fifty peers have signed up to speak in the debate so far. It is clear a good number have doubts about the Bill.

You can watch the debate live on Friday 9 February 2024, here from 10am:

Ensure you’re signed up as a supporter of Let Us Pray, and follow us on social media, and we’ll update you soon after the debate.

See also: C of E admits ministers could be wrongly accused of conversion therapy

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