Gay conversion therapy will be scrapped in government U-turn after ITV News report

  • ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand reports on the whiplash at the heart of government, as it backpedals on its decision to ditch conversion therapy

Boris Johnson has been forced to stage a hasty U-turn after an announcement that ministers were abandoning plans to ban conversion therapy sparked a furious backlash.

Earlier on Thursday, ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand revealed a leaked government document that showed government proposals to scrap a promise to ban conversion therapy.

But negative reaction from Conservative MPs and ministers has made the prime minister reconsider the decision, a senior government source told ITV News.

However the new plans will only apply to gay - and not trans - conversion therapy, ITV News understands.

One Conservative MP told Paul Brand: “I sent the PM a message directly saying I was ashamed. And lots of other colleagues have too.”

The official briefing note, ITV News exclusively revealed, said that the prime minister had decided not to outlaw the practice, despite repeated promises by Boris Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May that it would be banned.

Conversion therapy attempts to change or suppress someone’s sexuality or gender identity and is already outlawed in several other countries.

But the Downing Street document seen by ITV News read: “The PM has agreed we should not move forward with legislation to ban LGBT conversion therapy.”

The document said that the war in Ukraine, and the cost of living crisis, could be given as reasons why the government could no longer go ahead with its plan to ban conversion therapy.

The note also said it accepted there would be a "noisy backlash from LGBT groups".

Following the ITV News revelations, a number of Conservative MPs spoke out against plans to scrap the ban on conversion therapy.

Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, who has called for a ban on conversion therapy, told ITV News "people will lose lives" if the government goes ahead with the U-turn.

Dehenna Davison - who is the first female Conserative MP to publicly come out as bisexual - said called on the government to immediately reverse its decision.

"As well as breaking an explicit promise, this is a matter of basic decency", she said on Twitter.

"Being gay is not something that needs curing", she added.