The transgender community will be protected under plans to outlaw so-called conversion therapy, the equalities minister has told ITV News.
Calls for the Tory government to implement a ban on the practice have grown since former Prime Minister Theresa May first pledged to stamp it out in 2018.
After several high-profile resignations from the government’s LGBT+ Advisory Panel over Whitehall’s perceived sluggishness on the issue, Liz Truss recommitted to a ban.
So-called conversion therapy seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity.
As our previous investigations at ITV News have shown, conversion therapy involves a range of practices.
In extreme cases it can involve rape and exorcism, but it often takes more subtle forms, including prayer and spiritual guidance.
Some christians and Conservative MPs have lobbied the government to make allowances for religious freedoms, but campaigners say only a complete ban will ensure the safety of vulnerable people who often consent to conversion therapy without realising the damage it does.
Debate continued over how to define the therapy and the scope of the ban – with concerns the trans community could be overlooked.
But Ms Truss appears to have clarified the government’s position.
Speaking to ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston on his show, Peston, which will air at 10.55pm on ITV, she said: "I'm very clear that we want to make sure that transgender people are free to live their lives and don't face the type of horrific conversion therapy that currently has been going on here in the UK."
Charity Stonewall welcomed the comments, calling them a “clear commitment” by the minister in a post on Twitter.
The charity added: “It is vital that the forthcoming legislative ban promised by Government protects trans people from conversion therapy in all its forms, including medical, psychiatric, psychological, religious and cultural practices.”
Boris Johnson has said ending conversion therapy is “technically complex” but insisted that ministers will “stamp it out” after three LGBT advisers resigned in protest.
The prime minister said he would work to end the “abhorrent” practice after his government came under damning criticism for allegedly creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT people.
Earlier this month, Jayne Ozanne, who was a key member of the government's LGBT+ Advisory Panel, resigned from her role – accusing ministers of being "ignorant" about the issues affecting the community.
The catalyst for her resignation was a debate in Parliament sparked by a petition signed by over 250,000, which called for a ban on "conversion therapy."
Campaigners had expected the government to overlook the element of the ban involving the trans community.
Also on the show, Ms Truss was asked about what kind of spare vaccine capacity the UK has available to offer to the EU as a fallout between the government and bloc grew in recent days.
She said: "I'm not going to go into numbers at this stage.
“What we know is there is production going on around the world, and what we need to do is work together with other countries to ramp up that production, ramp up that capacity, so it's not just the UK and the EU we see the rest of the world getting the vaccines it needs and you know there are important players like India also involved in those types of discussions to make sure there is enough vaccine supply."
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