Welsh First Minister candidate commits to measures on 'conversion therapy'

16, February 2024

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford will step down next month after more than five years in the position.

One candidate competing to replace Drakeford is Education Minister Jeremy Miles.

Presenting his position on a number of issues, Miles said that if he is appointed, his administration will do everything within its power to ‘ban conversion therapy’.

A similar pledge has already been made by the Welsh Government but, as criminal justice is not devolved to Wales, it is expected to fall within the scope of a Westminster Bill. 

The Welsh Government does not think this will go far enough, and under Mark Drakeford’s leadership has talked about advancing its cause within the powers that it has. It said it had commissioned legal advice and would pursue further devolution if needed.

Results of the leadership contest will be announced in mid-March.

Earlier this year the Welsh Government announced a working group to advise it on “actions to ban conversion practices in Wales for all LGBTQ+ people”.

Let Us Pray raised concerns at the time that the group would likely make inappropriate recommendations due to the repressive intentions of those in the group. No effort appeared to have been made to involve anyone with concerns about the plans.

Members of the group included Chair of the ‘Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition’ Jayne Ozanne, who claims “gentle, non-coercive prayer” should be criminalised under a new law.

In Scotland, Official Recommendations from a similar Government ‘expert’ group were labelled “fundamentally illiberal in intent” by a top human rights KC.

Let Us Pray spokesman Simon Calvert said: “We all want to protect people from abuse or coercion. But ideological campaigners have weaponised the concept of safeguarding in their intolerant campaign to criminalise churches that do not embrace their particular brand of LGBT theology.

“Wales must not repeat Scotland’s mistake of listening only to one side of the discussion. These are contentious issues that require proper consideration and a careful balancing of rights, not appointing a rigged advisory group to validate the idea of cancelling freedom of thought and worship. Politicians across the board need to hear from a range of voices, not just those who describe anyone who takes a different view from them as a ‘safeguarding risk’. ”

See also: The ‘jellyfish’ let loose in the House of Lords

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