According to the government, transgender-specific practices will be included in a new law that will outlaw all forms of conversion therapy in England and Wales.
Attempts to alter a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity will be prohibited by the ban.
All forms of conversion therapy have been labeled “unethical and potentially harmful” by mental health organizations.
The government had previously stated that the ban would not apply to transgender conversion therapy.
In a written statement, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan stated that the bill would “protect everyone, including those targeted on the basis of their sexuality, or being transgender,” and that it would be published shortly.
Legislation should not “harm the growing number of children and young adults experiencing gender-related distress, through inadvertently criminalizing or chilling legitimate conversations parents or clinicians may have with their children,” as stated by Ms. Donelan.
She went on to say, “We recognize the strength of feeling on the issue of harmful conversion practices and remain committed to protecting people from these practices and ensuring they can live their lives free from the threat of harm or abuse.”
A joint committee will examine the bill ahead of time before it becomes law.
Conversion therapy, also known as “gay cure” therapy, aims to suppress an individual’s sexual orientation or prevent them from identifying as a different gender than their birth sex.
Talking therapies and prayer are two examples, but more extreme forms include exorcism, physical violence, and starvation.
A UK-wide LGBT survey conducted in 2018 found that 5% of 108,000 respondents had been offered conversion therapy, while 2% had undergone it. The exact prevalence of the practice is unknown.
8 percent of transgender respondents reported receiving conversion therapy, and 4 percent reported undergoing it.
Analysis By LGBT & identity producer Josh Parry
Campaigners who have fought for years to have the ban on conversion therapy enacted were probably hoping the government’s ban would be applauded.
Instead, it has received a more cautious reception. Promises of this kind have been made before.
Think back to 2018, when the government released a slew of announcements following the publication of its landmark LGBT Action Plan.
A plan to end so-called conversion therapy practices was one of the most important promises.
There have been a number of reversals since then, as well as endless media debate and even resignations from the government’s LGBT advisory panel.
The government has committed to a rough time frame, despite the fact that the announcement has been received with some caution. It says that MPs, Lords, and experts will work out the law’s specifics before the fall.
The culture secretary hopes that this scrutiny will prevent “unintended consequences” from occurring as a result of the bill and will safeguard “everyone” from such practices.
Last year, the government made the announcement that it was abandoning all plans for a ban, but it quickly reversed course.
After that, it decided that therapy for sexual orientation would be illegal, but it said that its plans would not include transgender people and that separate research would be done on the “complexity of issues.”
It stated that there were concerns regarding the possibility of “unintended consequences,” which could have an impact on educators, parents, and therapists who assist children who are struggling with their gender identity.
This decision was made following the interim report of the Cass Review, in which it was suggested that children’s gender identity services in England be rethought.
However, in an open letter, a group of mental health organizations, including the NHS, called for transgender people to be included in any ban and downplayed the possibility of unintended consequences.
All forms of conversion therapy, including those for adults over the age of 18 “who do not consent and who are coerced or forced to undergo” the practice, will now be included in the bill.
The LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop’s chief executive, Leni Morris, told the BBC that she is pleased that transgender people will be included in the proposed ban.
She is urging the government to swiftly introduce “this vital piece of legislation” to Parliament because they are working with “victims and survivors who are experiencing conversion practices right now and our community deserves to be protected,” and they should avoid any further delays.
Galop is in charge of the government-funded National Conversion Therapy Helpline, which provides assistance to individuals who have undergone or are at risk of conversion therapy.
“End up criminalizing consensual conversations with those who genuinely want help and support,” Christian Concern CEO Andrea Williams stated.
Christian Concern has stated that it is preparing legal action to oppose any legislation that is proposed in this area.
The announcement on Tuesday comes after Scottish plans to make it easier for people to change their legal sex were stopped by the UK government.
Ministers claimed that the proposed law would conflict with nationwide equality safeguards.