Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki Commons
There has been outrage amongst the LGBTQ community and beyond following the announcement that the UK government is recommitting itself to banning ‘conversion’ therapy, but not for transgender people.
In a stunning turn of events, the government made its second U-turn in a day late on Thursday (31 March), confirming it would press ahead with banning gay conversion therapy in the UK after a leaked document showed it planned to drop the issue.
The document read: “The PM [Boris Johnson] has agreed we should not move forward with legislation to ban LGBT conversion therapy.”
“A staggering betrayal”
It acknowledged that there will be some “noisy backlash from LGBT groups and some parliamentarians” to the news and that “unprecedented circumstances” such as “cost of living” and “the crisis in Ukraine” would be cited as reasons for the move.
Unsurprisingly, the news was met with widespread backlash from a whole gamut of people, LGBTQ groups, and politicians.
The End Conversion Therapy Scotland Campaign called it “a staggering betrayal of LGBT+ people across England and Wales.”
A staggering betrayal of LGBT+ people across England and Wales.
Immediately before hosting their proclaimed “Safe To Be Me” conference.
We can only hope that our progress towards a thorough and comprehensive ban in Scotland will shame them into a U-Turn on this failure. https://t.co/iEUUP3a1VG
— End Conversion Therapy Scotland (@ECTScotland) March 31, 2022
However, it was later reported, again by ITV, that Boris Johnson had decided to change his mind yet again following the backlash from Conservative MPs, but that the new plans would not cover trans people.
ITV’s Paul Brand, who broke the news, reports that one MP told him privately: “I sent the PM a message directly saying I was ashamed. And lots of other colleagues have too.”
The SNP MP John Nicolson called the whole debacle “a shambles” and asked: “Has there been a more mendacious Prime Minister than Boris Johnson?”
— JOHN NICOLSON M.P. (@MrJohnNicolson) March 31, 2022
The decision to omit transgender ‘conversion’ therapy sparked immediate outrage, particularly given that the announcement came on Transgender Day of Visibility.
Jayne Ozanne, a survivor of and campaigner against ‘conversion’ therapy tweeted her outrage: “the most vulnerable will remain the least unprotected – trans people are twice as likely to be offered/subjected to CT!:
Unintended consequences?! The only consequences that will now happen is that the most vulnerable will remain the least unprotected – trans people are twice as likely to be offered/subjected to CT!
— Jayne Ozanne 🇺🇦 (@JayneOzanne) March 31, 2022
Juno Dawson shared: “For the government to admit conversion therapy is cruel and harmful but NOT protect trans people from it has left me totally broken. I don’t really know what to do anymore.”
For the government to admit conversion therapy is cruel and harmful but NOT protect trans people from it has left me totally broken. I don’t really know what to do anymore.
— Juno Dawson (@junodawson) April 1, 2022
Peter Tatchell added: “Any conversion therapy ban that excludes trans people is not a ban on conversion therapy at all. Boris is pandering to transphobes. Totally unacceptable!”
The Govt does another u-turn. It will now ban LGB #ConversionTherapy but not #trans conversion therapy. Any conversion therapy ban that excludes trans people is not a ban on conversion therapy at all. Boris is pandering to transphobes. Totally unacceptable! #BanConversionTherapy https://t.co/dZQQCk4F2J
— Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell) March 31, 2022