‘Extend conversion therapy consultation’ says church campaign

16, November 2021

The Let Us Pray campaign has called on the UK Government to follow normal protocol and allow its consultation on conversion therapy to run for 12 weeks, instead of the current truncated six week deadline.

Their call echoes concerns raised by former No.10 adviser Nikki da Costa and Conservative Peer Baroness Jenkin of Kennington.

Let Us Pray, which believes banning conversion therapy should not mean criminalising ordinary church activities such as prayer between friends, said the consequences of getting the ban wrong could be severe. It is particularly concerned about the ability of parents, religious or otherwise, to pass on their values to their children in relation to sex and gender.

At the weekend Da Costa told The Times the accelerated consultation period, which was halved from the normal 12-weeks, was “driven” by a desire “to get a good news story” in time for next year’s government-backed LGBTQ equality conference.

Da Costa, whose concerns focus around the trans aspect of the conversion therapy ban, said:

There’s no reason why the government can’t take a few more weeks, even a couple months to get this right.

In response Conservative Peer Baroness Jenkin of Kennington tweeted:

More and more colleagues in @UKHouseofLords expressing concern about the fact that the consultation period for the Conversion Therapy (Prohibition) Bill is only six weeks rather than the usual 12

Simon Calvert, spokesman for the Let Us Pray campaign, said:

The more people hear about these proposals, the more concerned they are. Feminists are rightly worried about the impact on a parent’s ability to challenge the narrative that their gender-confused child is ‘trapped in the wrong body’. Church groups are concerned an over-broad ban would be used to ‘punish’ them for having ‘the wrong views’ about sexuality.

The Government has already been told it faces a legal challenge if it caves to demands to widen the conversion therapy ban in a way which jeopardises the ordinary, everyday work of churches. They have to be very careful to get this right.

Their proposals appear quite focused in principle, but the consultation paper lacks detail. We still don’t know how the new law will be worded. So we don’t know how the Government will keep its pledge not to criminalise pastors and parents who don’t embrace ‘Stonewall law’ on LGBT issues.

Government guidance on consultations warns that “consulting too quickly will not give enough time for consideration and will reduce the quality of responses”. This issue is too important to rush. Allowing the consultation to run the normal 12 weeks would give all sides more opportunity to consider and comment on the proposals and more time for officials to draw up watertight plans.

Notes for Editors:

Judge the length of the consultation on the basis of legal advice and taking into account the nature and impact of the proposal. Consulting for too long will unnecessarily delay policy development. Consulting too quickly will not give enough time for consideration and will reduce the quality of responses.

Consultations should take account of the groups being consulted. Consult stakeholders in a way that suits them. Charities may need more time to respond than businesses, for example.

might typically vary between two and 12 weeks

For a new and contentious policy, 12 weeks or more may still be appropriate.

Under normal circumstances, consultations should last for a minimum of 12 weeks. This should be factored into project plans for policy development work. Allowing at least 12 weeks will help enhance the quality of the responses. This is because many organisations will want to consult the people they represent or work with before drafting a response to Government and to do so takes time.


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