The UK Prime Minister has said so-called gay ‘conversion therapy’ is “absolutely abhorrent” and pledged to ban it after conducting a study.
Speaking to ITV News, Boris Johnson said that the highly controversial practice has “no place in a civilised society.” His statement comes just weeks after a Commons committee called for people to fill in an online form with their experiences of and views on the issue.
The petitions committee is carrying out an investigation after thousands of people signed a petition calling for the UK to follow other countries in enforcing a ban. Johnson’s comments also come after a poll, shared with ITV News, found that a majority of the public want ‘conversion therapy’ outlawed. Conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Ozanne Foundation, it found 62% of those surveyed support a ban, with only 14% saying they don’t (the rest said they didn’t know).
Commenting on Twitter, the Lib Dem MP and party leadership candidate Layla Moran said:
“I’ve been leading cross-party efforts to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy.’ While the PM’s statement is welcome – there have been ‘plans’ and ‘pledges’ for over two years now. What we need is urgent government action to end this outdated and harmful practice for good.”
Speaking to EILE Magazine, Lib Dem Baroness and LGBT+ Rights Campaigner, Liz Barker said:
“It is very good to see the government in the UK is having a long, hard look at these very serious issues. I very much hope that they look to Ireland for inspiration and examples of what enlightened legislation can do to bring about a harmonious and just society.”
Northern Irish writer and LGBT+ activist Stephen Donnan-Dalzell told EILE: “I’d say that ‘conversion therapy’ isn’t therapy at all, it’s a form of psychological torture and extreme social engineering.
“It’s based on the premise that sexual orientation is a learned behaviour, when it’s nothing of the sort and there is nothing to be ‘cured.’ It should be banned outright. [The British government’s announcement] is progress but it should have been done decades ago.”
Mr Johnson was, however, much more vague on the Gender Recognition Act, only saying that the government would ‘respond’ over the Summer. In response, the British LGBT+ charity Stonewall put out a statement on Twitter, saying:
The government said they’d publish their GRA reform plans before this Thursday. Now they’re saying it will be ‘over Summer.’ It’s very frustrating that trans people face more uncertainty while they wait. But we hope this delay will lead to a better outcome for trans equality.
Meanwhile Mermaids, the UK charity supporting transgender children, young people and their families, stated on Twitter:
The Prime Minister has announced the GRA response will now come after Parliament returns on 1st September. This will come as a blow to those pressing for a rollback of trans rights and we hope the further delay heralds positive action to improve trans lives. It remains hugely important for us all to continue writing short, personal polite and persuasive letters to our MPs.
~ Mathew Hulbert
UK-based LGBT+ activist and EILE contributor