Conversion 'therapy' ban
LGBTQIA+ people do not need to be ‘cured’. Conversion ‘therapy’ is harmful and can negatively impact a person’s mental health. We’ve responded to the UK government’s consultation on conversion ‘therapy’, calling for an outright ban of these abhorrent practices.
About conversion practices
Conversion practices aim to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The aim is to ‘cure’ someone from being LGBTQIA+. These practices can include formal sessions that present themselves as 'therapy'. But more often they can be more subtle, such as faith groups giving advice on how to not act on sexual orientation. There can also be more extreme practices such as physical and sexual violence, or exorcisms.
All forms of conversion practices can result in poor mental health. Those who have experienced conversion practices have reported having suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and feelings of guilt, shame and self-hatred.
Yet conversion practices are still legal and still happening in the UK today.
The UK Government’s own research has found 7% of LGBTQIA+ people have been offered or undergone conversion practices. This needs to stop.
The Government’s consultation on banning conversion ‘therapy’
In October 2021, the Government opened a public consultation on their proposed legislation for banning conversion therapy. This came three years after Theresa May’s Government first promised to eradicate the ‘abhorrent’ practice.
Mind has responded to the consultation, as we fully support a ban on conversion practices. LGBTQIA+ people do not need to be ‘cured’. We reject the term ‘conversion therapy’ as we do not believe these practices are in any way therapeutic.
The Government’s proposed legislation had a few worrying loopholes or issues we wanted to be addressed, including:
Allowing ‘consenting’ adults to consent to conversion therapy
Allowing conversion practices within religious and faith-based settings to continue, including prayer and scripture readings to convert someone’s sexual orientation and gender identity
Not including asexual, bisexual, intersex or nonbinary people in the ban
Not covering attempts to ‘suppress’ as well as change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
In 2021 and 2022 we talked to people about their experiences of conversion practices and the impact of this on their mental health. We also spoke to staff in our local Mind network who provide support and services for LGBTQIA+ people.
Our report Conversion ‘therapy’ ban: legislating to protect the mental health of the LGBTQIA+ community includes quotes from the people who talked to us. They have given us permission to share their words and stories – in the hope that this will strengthen calls for a comprehensive ban that protects all LGBTQIA+ people.
In January 2023, the Government announced plans to publish a Bill implementing a fully inclusive ban on conversion practices.
We still have a long way to go to before an effective ban is in place, and we have a lot to do to ensure all LGBTQIA+ people are protected from this ban. We will need clarification around the legal definitions of conversion therapy, the proposed criminal sanctions and what support people need if they have been offered or undergone conversion practices.
Once the Bill is published, we will be working to influence the passage of the Bill through Parliament.
If you’d like to find out more about this work, please get in touch at [email protected]