LGBTIQA+ Greens Statement on Banning Conversion Therapy

In August of 2020, the then Deputy Chair of LGBTIQA+ Greens Lee-Anne Lawrance said: “I’d urge Liz Truss to not delay any more. We need to ban conversion therapy. Reform the Gender Recognition Act. Recommit to the LGBT Action Plan.”

They joined the many names, including Crispin Blunt and the All-Party Parliamentary Group, calling for Liz Truss to ban the dreadful practice of ‘conversion therapy’.

We are now re-stating this plea, calling upon Liz Truss to stay true to her word and ban the so-called ‘conversion therapy’. ‘Conversion therapy’ is a pseudo-therapy, aimed at changing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity from undesired (LGBTIQA+) to desired (heterosexual, allosexual and cisgender). It lacks any scientific basis. This includes attempts to change a person’s asexuality, due to an assumption that everyone must desire sexual attraction and activity. It does not include practices that assist a person to express their gender identity.

This followed the publication of the 2018 LGBT Action Plan, in which the Conservative Government committed to banning the therapy and stated that they “will bring forward proposals to end the practice of ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK. These activities are wrong, and we are not willing to let them continue. Led by the Government Equalities Office, we will fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting ‘conversion therapy’. Our intent is to protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial or faith-based context.”

Despite this two-year old commitment, and Truss responding to the All-Parliamentary Group expressing her disgust at the practice of ‘conversion therapy’, and her immediate plans to bring an end to it, almost three years later little has been said about these proposals since, and disappointingly the practice remains legal.

During this time of inaction, several countries, including Germany, have either outright banned, or made very meaningful steps towards enacting legislation banning ‘conversion therapy’. In Germany, you cannot advertise ‘conversion therapy’ and if this ‘therapy’ is forced upon someone under 18 you can face up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to €30,000.

It is completely unacceptable for Liz Truss and the Government to continue to drag their feet and to let LGBT+ people continue to be subjected to, as the Human Rights Campaign states, the ‘dangerous and discredited practices’ of this ‘reparative’ therapy. The damages of ‘conversion therapy’ are severe. The UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture has said that, in some instances, ‘conversion therapy’ can “lead to severe and life-long physical and mental pain and suffering and can amount to torture and ill-treatment.” This is backed up by research. For example, American Psychological Association (APA, 2009), found that ‘conversion therapy’ leads to self-loathing, depression and suicidal urges. In addition, the APA state that ‘conversion therapy’ has been linked to cases of depression, anxiety and suicidality.

The United Nations Committee against Torture, Special Rapporteur on Torture, Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have all stated that conversion therapy contravenes the prohibition against torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The UK Government has an obligation to protect LGBTQ+ people from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and yet has still failed to act.

A failure to do this will lead all those calling on making the practice illegal to question whether Liz Truss is representing her role as Minister for Women and Equalities adequately and in good faith. As the LGBT Action Plan reports, the existence of ‘conversion therapy’ is a safety issue for LGBTQ+ communities and by delaying action against this practice, she is actively dismissing the very real safety concerns that face the LGBTQ+ community.

Please sign this petition, and write to your MP, asking them to push Liz Truss to ban this extremely harmful pseudo-therapy. We must ensure that ‘conversion therapy’ aiming to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is banned.

In addition, it is imperative we go further than merely banning ‘conversion therapy’. We must ensure those harmed are cared for. This can be done by:

  1. Empowering people to seek help through the creation of a specific contact point such as a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Ombudsman or Complaints Commissioner
  2. Develop policies to inform and educate the public via school and social service programmes

We are calling upon Liz Truss to listen to LGBTIQA+ Greens, and the Government’s own commitment, by staying true to her word and without delay banning so-called ‘conversion therapy’ throughout the United Kingdom.

LGBTIQA+ Greens.

(Statement by LGBTIQA+ Greens. This isn’t formal Green Party policy but is a statement to raise awareness on this issue.)