Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch delays conversion therapy ban

090722 Bristol Pride 22

New equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has paused work to ban conversion therapy since taking over the role last week, ITV News understands.

On her return to the equalities department, where she previously worked as a junior minister, she asked to review the current plans.

While it isn't unusual for a new minister to take stock before committing to a policy, the change in personnel means a further delay to outlawing the practice.

ITV News understands that Ms Badenoch's predecessor in the role, Nadhim Zahawi, had agreed that a Joint Committee of MPs and Lords would scrutinise a bill next year to finally introduce a ban.

The idea was to expedite the legislation during the fourth session of parliament, due to begin in the spring.

However, those plans are now on hold until the new equalities minister has agreed to them.

There is frustration that a ban still hasn't been brought forward four years after Theresa May first promised on ITV News that the practice would be ended.

ITV News understands that Conservative MPs have been engaging with Downing Street over the issue, in the hope that new prime minister Rishi Sunak will make a clear commitment.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know

Under Boris Johnson's government, the ban was watered down by removing trans conversion therapy from the scope of any legislation, only including conversion therapy focused on "changing" someone's sexuality. Some campaigners were hoping the Joint Committee - which would take oral and written evidence from interested parties - would allow them to reinsert a ban on trans conversion therapy. It would also allow those opposed to voice their concerns.

Ms Badenoch has already clashed with elements of the LGBT+ community since she was appointed last week, accusing some campaigners of using equality as a "sword" to attack others rather than a "shield" to protect their rights.

She has previously been accused of having an ambiguous position on banning conversion therapy.

Chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition Jayne Ozanne told ITV News: "I despair at yet another delay by this government - who have told us for years that they are working 'at pace', whilst countless other countries have just got on and banned it!

Four years ago, Theresa May promised the government would ban conversion therapy.

"We know that the majority of the public join us in wanting a full ban and, like us, cannot understand why any minister truly committed to protecting the LGBT+ community would want to delay it." In response, a government spokesperson in the equalities department said, "The minister for women and equalities will consider the responses to the public consultation on conversion practices before responding in due course. "We have taken steps to ensure that victims of conversion practices have access to the support they need through a new service which launched in September."