Ban Conversion Therapy Bill gets first reading in Parliament

Graham Robson November 21, 2023

A Bill to Ban Conversion Therapy had its first reading in Parliament yesterday (Monday, November 20), which was put forward by All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group Vice Chair Baroness Burt of Solihull (Liberal Democrats). The Bill aims to put an end to discredited and harmful practices that claim to ‘cure’ people of their homosexuality or trans gender identity.

Baroness Burt ’s Private Member’s Bill, Conversion Therapy Prohibition (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Bill, was drawn first in the ballot just days after the Government failed to recommit to banning the practice in the King’s Speech. It has been over five years since the Government first announced its commitment to banning conversion therapy.

Baroness Burt said: “It is very disappointing that the Conservatives have failed to deliver on their promise to ban conversion therapy for five years now. But we Liberal Democrats are more than willing to help them out by introducing the Bill ourselves.

“There is cross-party consensus for dealing with this awful practice and I look forward to working with colleagues across Parliament to deliver the change we all desperately want to see – finally banning conversion therapy.”

After years of inaction, the Government abandoned its plan to bring forward legislation in March 2022, and was subsequently forced to u-turn on this decision the following day after significant backlash. Then, earlier this year, the Government revealed it would publish a draft bill ‘shortly’. However, when no draft bill was forthcoming after the summer recess, LGBTQ+ campaigners protested the ongoing delays. Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ people continue to be subjected to harmful attempts of so-called ‘conversion therapy’.

The UK Government’s 2018 National LGBT Survey showed that 7% of LGBTQ+ people had undergone or been offered conversion therapy. Of those who had undergone it, 51% reported that it had been conducted by a religious group or in a religious setting. Such activities can include exorcisms and forced prayer.

LGBT Humanists, which has long campaigned for so-called conversion therapy to be banned, believe “conversion therapy is usually rooted in false and often pseudoscientific religious beliefs about what causes people to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans”.

Nick Baldwin, LGBT Humanists Coordinator, said: “We would like to thank Baroness Burt for bringing forward this timely Bill. We have waited on the Government to deliver on their commitment to ban the abhorrent practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for so long. We can’t wait any longer.

“We implore parliamentarians from all parties, across both houses to get behind a Bill that protects the whole LGBTQ+ community from conversion practices.”

Find out more about LGBT Humanists.