Christians warn Govt: Don’t let the conversion therapy ban become an LGBT blasphemy law
The Government has confirmed it will bring forward a bill outlawing ‘conversion therapy’. But Let Us Pray, a campaign to protect the ordinary work of churches, is warning against legislative overreach. It says the Bill could turn into an LGBT blasphemy law, criminalising the mere expression of opinions.
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.
“Pursuing this Bill seems to be more about placating angry backbenchers than addressing an actual gap in the law.
“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.
“The Government says it wants to protect religious freedoms in the legislation but many of those calling for the ban simply do not agree with them. They want the ban to be a new speech crime – a kind of LGBT blasphemy law – to criminalise those who express the ‘wrong’ opinions.
“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.”
The Government has said its ban will cover sexual orientation 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’.
Notes for Editors:
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also recognised the risk of “unintended consequences” in any conversion therapy ban.
- The Free Speech Union has warned that a ban risks chilling free speech and infringing upon the rights of parents “who may have legitimate questions about their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity or personal self-expression”.
- Jayne Ozanne told the Scottish Parliament:
“the sort of prayer … where any outcome is acceptable and right is good and should be encouraged. However, when there is a pre-determined purpose I think that must be banned”.
- Conversion therapy activists, and journalists, frequently put prayer on the same spectrum as rape and one LGBT charity even compared Christian concerns about the ban to the Holocaust.
- Jason Coppel QC’s legal opinion, “Human rights implications of proposals to ban ‘conversion therapy’”, can be read here.
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