The UK government has abandoned its pledge to ban so-called conversion therapy, which attempts to change or suppress someone’s sexuality or gender identity and is already outlawed in several other countries including Canada and New Zealand, according to a leaked document shared with ITV News.
The official briefing says that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided not to outlaw the practice, despite repeated promises by the PM and his predecessor Theresa May that it would be banned.
But the Downing Street document seen by ITV News states: “The PM has agreed we should not move forward with legislation to ban LGBT conversion therapy.”
The briefing, titled Conversion Therapy Handling Plan, admits that there will be a “noisy backlash from LGBT groups and some parliamentarians when we announce we do not intend to proceed.”
It goes on to warn: “The LGBT sector will read this decision as a signal the government is uninterested in LGBT issues” and sets out how the fallout could be minimised.
The ban, law banning conversion therapy was announced in last year’s Queen’s Speech, after first being promised by the government in 2018. Since then, legislation has been delayed by repeated consultations over how a ban might work.
The document advises announcing the U-turn as part of this year’s Queen’s Speech in early May, suggesting: “This will allow us to position the decision as prioritising our legislative programme, and reduces the risk of looking like we have singled out an LGBT issue.”
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and vocal opponent of conversion therapy, said on Twitter: “The Tories ditch their promise to ban conversion therapy, made nearly four years ago & reiterated only yesterday.
“A shameful betrayal! Boris seems to have decided to appease religious homophobes who practice unethical, abusive & harmful conversion therapy.”