Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to drop ban on conversion therapy

Graham Robson September 25, 2023

Plans to ban conversion therapy, which aims to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, are expected to be dropped by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, despite the Conservatives vowing to legislate against the controversial practice five years ago during Theresa May’s tenure as prime minister.

Ministers, who have concluded that similar legislation has proven problematic or ineffective in other countries, are reportedly working on an alternative solution, which would highlight existing laws that the government believes already criminalise several aspects of conversion therapy.

Commons leader Penny Mordaunt MP wrote to campaigners in March promising draft legislation would be published before the end of the parliamentary session. However, despite a draft version of the bill said to have been sent to Sunak over the summer, it has not been published.

Sources told The Sunday Times: “A government spokesman said: “No one in this country should be harmed or harassed for who they are and attempts at so-called ‘conversion therapy’ are abhorrent. That is why we are carefully considering this very complex issue. Ministers will be setting out further details on this in due course.”

It is not known exactly how widespread the practice is but 5% of 108,000 people who responded to a UK-wide LGBTQ+ survey in 2018 said they had been offered some form of conversion therapy, while 2% had undergone it.

Of the transgender respondents, 8% said they had been offered conversion therapy and 4% said they had undergone it.