Labour promises ban on conversion therapy as government's LGBT+ record attacked

  • Video report by ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand

"Abhorrent" so-called conversion therapy will be banned under a Labour government, leader Sir Keir Starmer has said, adding his party is "100% against it".

On Wednesday, three of the government's equality advisers resigned over the lack of action.

Jayne Ozanne, James Morton and Ellen Murray all quit their roles on the government's LGBT Advisory Panel.

Conversion therapy attempts to change or suppress a person's sexuality or gender identity.

Ms Ozanne told me ministers were creating a "hostile environment" for gay and trans people, particularly by failing to ban conversion therapy.

Responding at a press conference on Thursday, Sir Keir said: "The government has clearly got a blind spot here, it's got a problem, and the prime minister needs to address it, not least because it's a pattern of behaviour."

Also on Thursday, the Conservative Party's LGBT group also sided with Ms Ozanne, calling for an investigation into why she felt forced to resign.

In a statement, the group said: “We are deeply concerned by the comments made by Jayne Ozanne .

"It is upsetting to hear of her experience and read the allegations she has made.

"A thorough investigation is needed to ensure this does not happen again.

"We need to set a standard for others to follow. This is not it.”

Several Conservative MPs have also told me there is also significant "unease" in Parliament at the government's approach to LGBT issues.

In 2018 the then prime minister Theresa May promised in an interview with ITV News that she would ban conversion therapy.

Former PM Theresa May commits to banning conversion therapy:

Despite Boris Johnson reiterating that promise last July, no action has yet been taken, with fears any measures will not be enforced in law.

One Conservative backbencher among several lobbying the government to deliver its promised ban told me: "A lot of us are incredibly concerned and frustrated.

"If the government has a plan to sort this soon (as they say), then why would the panel feel resigning is the only option? I fear we are just being strung along."

On Thursday, the prime minister's spokesperson insisted that the government was "considering both legislative and non-legislative options" to "end" conversion therapy.

Asked whether there was a hostile environment for LGBT+ people as alleged, he replied: "The PM is immensely proud to live in country that's progressive, working with other countries to improve rights internationally."

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner, when asked about conversion therapy following ITV News' story, said she's "really concerned about the government going back on its pledges for the LGBT+ community".

She added: "We don't want to go back to the days of Section 28 - we should be respecting people and we should be supporting them.

"I'm really concerned about the government's rhetoric and language when it comes to LGBT+ rights."

Minister for London Paul Scully, when asked about the issue on Thursday morning, said the government is "making sure that we get the legislation right - we do want to ban it". "This should never be a thing, conversion therapy," he added.

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