Equalities minister's response to conversion therapy is 'disappointingly weak'

Representatives from eight political parties have written to the Equalities Minister demanding a ban on conversion therapy, in the biggest display of unity on an LGBT+ issue in Parliament's history. 

The group, led and organised by LGBT+ Conservatives, includes LGBT+ Labour, LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, Plaid Pride and the official LGBTQ+ wing of the SNP.

They urge Liz Truss to meet with them and to understand the importance of placing a ban into law.In their letter, they tell her, "Without a legislative ban, the Government cannot end conversion therapy. The longer we wait, the weaker the words and intentions sound. You pledged to be the Government that banned conversion therapy. Now is the time to prove it."

It also states that Kemi Badenoch's response during the petitions committee debate on conversion therapy on March 8 was "disappointingly weak, vague and unempathetic".

"The Minister pointedly avoided using the word ‘ban’ and used only the word ‘end’, this set a very clear tone."

Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch. Credit: PA

It continued: "We have waited almost 1,000 days since the UK Government announced its intention to ban conversion therapy.

"It is more than nine months since the Prime Minister said that his government would soon be bringing forward plans for a ban."

The letter comes just a week after the resignation of three of equalities advisors in protest at the lack of action.

Ms Truss also said last week the government was "committed to LGBT equality".

She said: "We'll shortly be bringing forward plans to ban conversion therapy, which is an abhorrent practice.

When asked if she would outlaw the practice, she said: "We are committed to that and we'll shortly be bringing forward plans to do so."

Alex Beverley, Chair of LGBT+ for Labour said the party are "fully committed to a legal ban on conversion therapy".

She said: "It is an abhorrent practice which causes long term damage and is considered unethical by all therapy accreditation organisations and the Government need to take clear and unequivocal action to demonstrate they recognise the dignity of LGBT+ people to live their full lives."

The prime minister also labelled the practice as "repulsive" and "abhorrent" on Friday, and said he was sorry that three of the Government's LGBT advisers had resigned while issuing damning criticism.

During a visit to Queen's University Belfast last week, Mr Johnson told reporters: "I think this practice is repulsive and I think it's abhorrent, and I'm sorry these advisers have gone, but be in no doubt that we will deal with this issue."

"It is technically complex to deal with but we're determined to take further steps to stamp it out," he added.

  • Conversion therapy is 'repulsive' and 'abhorrent', says Boris Johnson

Despite promises from both Theresa May in 2018 and Boris Johnson in 2020 to ban the practice, no action has yet been taken, with the government recently dropping the word 'ban' altogether and instead promising to ‘end’ conversion therapy.

In an exclusive interview with ITV News last Wednesday, Jayne Ozanne quit her role as advisor to the government on equality, accusing it of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT+ people. Two further advisers, James Morton and Ellen Murray, later resigned too.