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UK Government confirms ‘conversion therapy’ ban will include trans people

"Our communities simply cannot face any further delays."

By Alastair James

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Data from the Census 2021 shows that people aged 16-24 are more likely to identify as LGBTQ than the rest of the population (Image: Pexels)

The UK Government will publish a draft bill for a ban on ‘conversion therapy’. It will be inclusive of trans people, unlike previous plans.

The announcement was made by the UK’s Culture Secretary, Michelle Donelan on Tuesday (17 January). It follows reports from the weekend that a new ban would be announced this week.

‘Conversion therapy’ is a debunked and outdated practice that seeks to change a person’s sexuality and/or gender identity. The World Health Organization and many health experts and organisations globally have long condemned the practice.

In a statement, Donelan said the government recognises “the strength of feeling on the issue”.

She continued: “It is right that this issue is tackled through a dedicated and tailored legislative approach”. She confirmed it would apply to people in England and Wales. The ban would “protect everyone, including those targeted on the basis of their sexuality, or being transgender.”

The draft bill is said to be published shortly. Pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee should take place this parliamentary session.

Donelan said scrutiny will ensure any bill won’t have “unintended consequences.”

“The legislation must not, through a lack of clarity, harm the growing number of children and young adults experiencing gender-related distress, through inadvertently criminalising or chilling legitimate conversations parents or clinicians may have with their children,” she closed.

“Our communities simply cannot face any further delays”

In response, Nancy Kelley, the Chief Executive of Stonewall welcomed the statement.

“But almost five years since the UK Government first promised to ban conversion practices in 2018, we have faced delay after delay. The UK Government must publish the Bill and an imminent timetable as soon as possible,” she added.

Kelley also said: “The UK Government’s own National LGBT Survey shows that 13% of trans people, and 7% of all LGBTQIA+ people have undergone or been offered so-called conversion therapy. Our communities simply cannot face any further delays.”

Plans for a ‘conversion therapy’ ban in the UK date back to 2018. After multiple delays plans were going to be dropped last year. A backlash led to them being picked back up but excluding trans people.

Tuesday’s announcement follows moves by the UK government to block Scotland’s gender reform bill, which would make life easier for trans people.

In response, Scotland’s First Minister said the fight would “inevitably” end up in court as Scotland defends its law.