Rishi Sunak set to ban gay and transgender conversion therapy, ITV News understands

The plans include a ban on conversion therapy for transgender people. Credit: PA

ITV News understands the government will now proceed with a ban on gay and transgender conversion therapy.

After Theresa May and Boris Johnson promised to outlaw the practice, Rishi Sunak's government had considered scrapping the pledge.

But The Times reported on Wednesday that after backlash from Conservative MPs and warnings that ministers could quit, the prime minister will include a draft bill in the King's speech which will criminalise "coercive" practices that attempt to change someone's sexuality and gender.

The paper reported that Mr Sunak had been considering dropping the bill amid claims of "unintended consequences" for teachers, parents and therapists helping children who are struggling with their gender identity.

A source has confirmed to ITV News that the ban will go ahead.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been warned his government could face a revolt if they axed the bill. Credit: PA

The chief whip, Simon Hart, warned the government could face a revolt if it failed to proceed with the Bill. There have been concerns the Tories could lose crucial votes if they scrapped the plans.

Stuart Andrew, the equalities minister, was also said to be prepared to consider his position if the government failed to go ahead with the ban, The Times said.

More than a dozen Tory MPs, including two ministers, reportedly complained to the chief whip last month after a controversial speech from the Home Secretary where she said people should not claim asylum for "simply being gay".

It has not been a smooth journey to this point - only last month, campaigners were worried time would run out before the government could publish a draft bill.

Protesters gathered outside Parliament accusing the government of breaking its pledge.

In April, demonstrators protested against the exclusion of transgender people from the ban. Credit: PA

It has been five years since former prime minister Theresa May first promised to ban conversion therapy.

Since then, every other prime minister has committed to the policy, although Boris Johnson attempted to drop it before his plans were exposed by ITV News and a U-turn was performed.

This week, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has written to women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, insisting legislation to ban conversion therapy “is needed”.

Commission chairwoman Baroness Kishwer Falkner wrote that the EHRC “position remains that legislation to ban harmful conversion practices is needed, and that thorough and detailed scrutiny remains imperative to ensure that any ban is fully effective in protecting people with the protected characteristics of sexual orientation and gender reassignment from harm, while avoiding any unintended consequences.

“As such, I hope to see this legislation in the forthcoming King’s Speech. We of course remain happy to engage and provide advice if required on the equality and human rights implications of any proposals.”

Ms Badenoch has expressed reservations about the plans but is not expected to oppose them, The Times also said.

Campaigners have been calling for the practice to be outlawed for years, saying it has “ruined” lives with its attempts “cure” LGBT+ people of being themselves.

But there has emerged criticism over the government's decision to ban proven "coercive" practices only.

Chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, Jayne Ozanne, said: "Whilst I'm pleased to see yet another U-turn by yet another prime minister on this critical issue, I am extremely concerned that making victims prove coercion will mean this is a bill in name only.

"All conversion therapy is coercive, but proving it puts the onus on the victim and lets perpetrators walk free.

"There is precious little time to get this through parliament, especially if the government stick with their plan of conducting pre-legislative scrutiny.

"I'm left feeling this is a cynical move to avoid hemorrhaging votes, rather than a genuine attempt to protect LGBT+ people's lives."

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