Thank you for contacting me about banning gay conversion therapy.
Gay conversion therapy is an abhorrent, outdated practice and I was extremely encouraged that one of the Prime Minister’s first commitments upon being elected in 2019 was to ban any form of conversion practice from taking place in the UK.
You may be interested to know that during my time as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, then Minister for Women and Equalities, I was able to observe part of the research the Government Equalities Office conducted when speaking to those who have sadly undergone these types of therapies, to better understand the nature of how they operate within society in the first place and how best we can stamp these practices out for good.
Whilst I would reassure you that Ministers are thoroughly considering all legislative and non-legislative options in order to prevent these activities from occurring, I would stress that in 95% of all cases of conversion therapy that Government and campaigners in this area are aware of, talking therapies were the main method used to try and ‘convert’ LGBT+ members of their community or religious groups. It is exactly due to these instances so often taking place within cultural or religious settings that makes this an incredibly complex issue for Government and other bodies to intervene in, both with identifying or tackling these unethical occurrences.
On these issues of cultural and religious community settings, this of course does not lessen the severity of this situation in any way so I am very pleased that Ministerial colleagues have confirmed they will continue to engage with cultural/religious organisations and groups so they can have full understanding of how best to support LGBT+ members and treat them as fellow human beings. An individual’s sexuality is not an illness to be ‘treated’ or cured and any conversion efforts should not be tolerated, particularly when a high volume of cases occur under the harmful, coercive guise of ‘spiritual support’.
In terms of mental health support for those who have been through conversion therapy, this is a subject I have held several meetings on recently with local charities and organisations who are all doing brilliant work to raise awareness on this important topic. Obviously, undergoing any form of conversion practice is incredibly damaging to those who are subjected to this and I have raised these concerns at the highest levels to ensure Ministers are fully aware of the mental health consequences here.
As a number of countries have already banned conversion therapy and it is my view that the UK should follow suit, I also intend to work with local organisations in submitting our policy proposals to the Government Equalities Office, for how to effectively achieve this ban.
Thank you again for contacting me on this very serious issue. I trust the above response makes clear that the Government is absolutely committed to tackling this once and for all. These practices have no place in a civilised society and nobody should ever have to go through such an experience. Meanwhile, I will continue to monitor the situation for progress on the Government’s plans.