Move to ban conversion therapy in Wales as UK government excludes trans community

The inclusion of trans people in the plans for a ban differ from the UK government's moves to outlaw the practice only for gay people Credit: Crown Copyright

The Welsh government has outlined the steps it is taking towards banning the practise of conversion therapy across Wales.

The deputy minister for social partnership, Hannah Blythyn, confirmed that NHS Wales has signed up to a Memorandum of Understanding to ban conversion therapy in Wales, including for the country's trans communities.

The inclusion of trans people in the plans for a ban differ from the UK Government's moves to outlaw the practice of 'gay conversion therapy'.

In an announcement, Ms Blythyn said: "Today I am announcing several further steps Welsh Government is taking towards making conversion therapy a thing of the past.

"In addition to seeking legal advice to determine all the levers we have in Wales to end the practice of conversion therapy unilaterally; we will educate and raise awareness of the horrors and ineffectiveness of conversion therapy practices by establishing a dedicated campaign in Wales. 

"Alongside this, work will be undertaken to better understand the impact of conversion ‘therapy’ on survivors to enable support services to be improved and we will establish a working group of experts, to include representatives from faith communities; the health and social care sector; and children and young people’s representatives, alongside LGBTQ+ people to help with this work and advise on key elements as a ban is developed.”

The UK government staged two U-turns on conversion therapy in the space of a few hours earlier this month.

It was initially announced that ministers were scrapping plans to ban the practise, sparking a furious backlash.

However within hours of the announcement, it announced legislation would be included in the Queen’s Speech in May.

The ban now set to be brought forward by the UK government will cover “only gay conversion therapy, not trans”, as reported by ITV.

The Welsh Government has confirmed a ban on conversion therapy in Wales will include the practise on trans people Credit: Crown Copyright

The UK government maintains that the issue is a legally complex area, adding that it has a responsibility to ensure unintended consequences are not written into legislation

A spokesperson for the UK government said: "The Government has a proud record on LGBT rights, and the Prime Minister is committed to bringing forward legislation to ban conversion therapy.  

"Recognising the complexity of issues and need for further careful thought, we will carry out separate work to consider the issue of transgender conversion therapy further. 

"This is a legally complex area and we have a responsibility to ensure unintended consequences are not written into legislation, particularly in the case of under 18s."

Conversion therapy

What is it and what does it mean?

Conversion therapy, which is also known by other names including "reparative therapy" or "gay cure therapy”, is the practise of trying to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Professional bodies such as the NHS have warned that it is both “unethical and potentially harmful”. 

When practiced, it involves trying to stop or suppress someone from being gay or from living as a different gender.

‘Therapies’ can include talking therapy and prayer, while more extreme forms include physical violence and practises such as food and sleep deprivation.

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Both the Welsh government and NHS Wales have signed a Memorandum of Understanding’ with the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy.

Organisations who sign the memorandum commit to ensure they do not commission or provide conversion therapy in Wales.

In a joint statement, Dr Frank Atherton, chief medical officer for Wales and Judith Paget, chief executive of NHS Wales said: "The Welsh government and NHS Wales fully support the banning of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, witnessed through our signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy.

"We stand united in our desire to make this abhorrent practice illegal and believe this will offer an important opportunity to support those at risk of conversion therapy as well as victims and survivors."