Opinion: A Call To Ban Conversion Therapy in the UK

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The disgraceful practice of so-called LGBT+ ‘conversion therapy’ may finally be outlawed in the UK, after the House of Commons announced an investigation following a petition calling for it to be made illegal.

The practice claims to be able to change someone’s sexuality.

More than 100,000 people signed the petition.

People have until July 13th to share their views: https://twitter.com/HouseofCommons/status/1279000022189817857.

It was announced in a rather ham-fisted way, however, with the above tweet asking: ‘Should it be made illegal?’ As a number of people tweeted in reply, this shouldn’t even be a question. Of course it should be made illegal.

The investigation is being carried out by the Commons Petition Committee, a cross-party group of MPs, appointed to consider petitions on petitions.parliament.uk and paper petitions.

In May, a law was passed in Germany making it illegal for the practice to be offered to minors, with those found guilty of doing so facing a year in prison or a fine of around £30,000. As part of the legislation, any parents or guardians forcing their children to undertake ‘conversion therapy’ through coercion, deception, or threats, could also face legal action against them.

There have been growing calls for the UK Government and Parliament to take action to outlaw the practice, which is damaging and can lead to significant mental health problems for those who go through it, especially since a number of reports by ITV news and its excellent reporter, Paul Brand.

The LGBT+ charity, Stonewall, has called for it to be banned, and has further called for ‘health and social care leaders and regulators to communicate a clear message to psychotherapists and counsellors, that trying to ‘cure’ lesiban, gay, bi and trans people is both harmful and dangerous.’

Stonewall research found that one in ten health and social care staff have witnessed colleagues express the belief that sexual orientation can be ‘cured’, which, the organisation says, rises to one in five among health and care staff in London. Read more here: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/campaign-groups/conversion-therapy

There is growing support, across the political spectrum in the UK, for the practice to be outlawed, and LGBT+ campaigners are hoping this parliamentary investigation will be the first step towards that happening.

Liberal Democrat MP, Layla Moran, tabled an early day motion in the Commons last month, calling for the practice to be banned, calling it “outdated” and “harmful.”

Former Chair and Vice President of LGBT+ Lib Dems, Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, says:

“Any type of conversion therapy is the cruelest and ugliest method of trying to change a person from who they fundamentally are-countries like Germany and Albania have outlawed this practice, and the UK is behind the curve on this issue.

“The government promised to ban this two years ago and [has] still yet to do anything.

“Action not words is required and pronto.”

The petition committee survey can be found here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/7WBGPZ/

 

-Mathew Hulbert

UK-based LGBT+ activist and EILE contributor

About EILE Magazine

The new LGBT magazine; available online, for download and on podcast. It's time for another view.
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