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UK Government ban on conversion therapy criticised after excluding trans people

Conversion practices will be prohibited in England and Wales for gay and bisexual people only

By Mireia Jiménez

Photo courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen

The UK Government announced on April 1 that conversion therapy for gay and bisexual people is to be banned in England and Wales.

The new legislation will prohibit practices attempting to change people’s sexuality, but not therapies carried out to change someone’s gender.

The decision came hours after it was confirmed by a government spokesperson that the ban would not go forward.

Various MPs and charities believe that the ban jeopardises transgender rights.

The Welsh Government heavily criticised the ban and is seeking “urgent legal advice”, said Deputy Minister Hannah Blythyn, insisting it is just a “partial U-turn” and a “grievous and shameful breach of trust".

The Scottish Parliament is currently considering a petition to ban conversion therapy practices in which transgender people are included.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) responded to the ban by stating,

“Given the documented lack of evidence about conversion therapy in relation to being transgender, recent attention and litigation on the implications of medical and surgical transition, and the ongoing NHS-commissioned independent review of gender identity services for children and young people led by Dr Hilary Cass OBE, we consider that these matters require further careful and detailed consideration before legislative proposals are finalised and the implications of them can be fully understood.”

The EHRC also criticised the reform of the Scottish Gender Recognition Act, which facilitates for transgender people to legally change their gender, by arguing that “more detailed consideration is needed” before any changes take place.

The National Union of Students (NUS), which previously advocated for the #BanConversionTherapy campaign, criticised the lack of protection for trans people in the new ban and EHRC comments.

“We are shocked, disappointed and angry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recent statements in response to legislative plans to ban conversion therapy in England and Wales, and Gender Recognition Act reform in Scotland.”

“The UK government has countless times harmed minoritised communities, however, the EHRC is supposed to be there to defend and protect the rights of those communities. This leaves us to wonder: how are they able to sleep at night after recommending further delays to vital legislations for LGBT+ communities?”

Ivana Drdáková, AUSA VP for Welfare said to The Gaudie,

“Conversion therapy in any form needs to be banned. It poses huge risks and puts people’s lives in danger. The government needs to lead the change and a decision to ban conversion therapy needs to be taken now. This can’t be ignored any longer.”

AUSA also confirmed its support in a protest by the LGBT+ Students Forum on Monday 18 March at 3pm in Castlegate Square.

Fi, Secretary of LGBTQ+ Students Forum told The Gaudie:

“The LGBTQ+ Forum stands decidedly against the legislative proposal for a ban on conversion therapy in its current form. It would make conversion therapy against trans people legal and in fact greenlit by the government, while the vast majority of the LGBTQ+ community and the public does not support this exclusion.”

“Conversion therapy is psychological torture in a very specific, harmful form and should not be acquitted by the law. The government must listen to LGBTQ+ advisers and consultations and protect trans people as it’s supposed to. We demand a ban on conversion therapy that is total and inclusive.”

Finally, a petition to the UK Parliament has already been signed by more than a hundred thousand people.


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