Watch: LGBTQ+ charities call on Liz Truss to keep word and ban conversion therapy
LGBTQ+ charities are calling on Liz Truss to "now deliver on her word" and ban conversion practices for all members of the community.
A compilation video released by Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition – made up of 79 leading LGBTQ+ and human rights charities, including Stonewall – shows the new prime minister previously pledging a ban.
Speaking as women and equalities minister, Truss condemned the "abhorrent" practices that harmfully "try to convert somebody to something they are not" as "not just wrong" but "completely inappropriate and unacceptable".
"There is no place for the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy in our society," she has said, outlining proposals to ensure lesbian, gay, bi and trans people can live their lives free from harm and announcing her commitment to a ban.
The Coalition is now urging Truss to "deliver, deliver, deliver" on this promise to outlaw abusive conversion practices that she has repeatedly spoken out against.
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Conversion 'therapy' includes medical, psychiatric, psychological, religious, cultural or any other interventions that seek to change, 'cure', or suppress someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.
It has been more than four years since the UK government initially committed to banning the practices in 2018 under Theresa May's leadership, with Truss in her previous role then introducing proposals in October 2021, including for trans people.
However, ex-prime minister Boris Johnson dropped plans to introduce a legislative ban earlier this year. Then, after widespread outrage from MPs, LGBTQ+ charities and campaigners, the commitment was reintroduced.
But he only promised a ban for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, with trans people – who are nearly twice as likely to be affected by the practice than other members of the community in general – excluded.
With the new prime minister now in office, currently taking part in the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham (2-5 October), leading charities are calling on her to live up to her word and help protect all LGBTQ+ people.
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Nancy Kelley, chief executive of Stonewall, (she/her), said, "Over the last four years successive governments have dragged their heels on their promise to ban abusive conversion practices that destroy LGBTQ+ people’s lives. As Prime Minister, Liz Truss can now finally deliver on her own commitment to protect lesbian, gay, bi and trans people from this harm.
"Countries around the world are increasingly adopting bans that safeguard LGBTQ+ people from attempts to change or 'cure' who we are. The UK, which has historically been a leader in LGBTQ+ rights, is fast falling behind. We now have an opportunity to fix Britain’s worrying slide down global rankings of countries that respect the rights of LGBTQ+ people."
Kelley added, "The Prime Minister has said time and time again that she is committed to banning abhorrent conversion practices. She must now deliver on her word."
Some 7% of LGBT people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy, including 13% of trans people, according to the government's National LGBT Survey.
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Leni Morris, CEO of Galop, the LGBT+ anti-abuse charity, said it has been supporting victims and survivors of so-called 'conversion therapy' for years and has seen the significant, often lifelong, effect on victims.
"We urgently need a ban in law to protect LGBT+ people from those who try to change who we are," added Morris.
"LGBT+ people in the UK deserve to be protected. Every day that passes without this legislation means more people coming through our doors, having experienced abuse that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
"We were promised a ban that protects the whole of our community. We urge the new government to act on this now, to stop more harm."
Jayne Ozanne, chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition and director of the Ozanne Foundation, echoed this with, "Conversion practices are indeed abhorrent and should have been banned years ago. We have constantly been assured that the government is working ‘at pace’ to ensure a full ban with no loopholes. It is time now for the Prime Minister to finally deliver on her long-held promises."
Ban Conversion Therapy Tweeted the video of Truss with a caption stating it would work with the prime minister to deliver the promise to ban the practices for all LGBTQ+ people.
Dr Jane Hamlin, president of the Beaumont Society, the longest established support group in the UK for trans people and their families, offered some more perspective to Yahoo Life UK on the extent of the harm caused by so-called 'conversion therapy'.
"'Conversion Therapy' sounds like a positive expression, doesn't it? Therapy is positive and beneficial. However, the conversion practices that we've heard about from members of the Beaumont Society, and others, are far from positive or beneficial. The practices are cruel and dangerous," said Hamlin.
"It is astonishing that they have not been banned before now. We have heard from people who have experienced 'water-boarding' which feels like you are being drowned. Others have been threatened with electric shock treatment, and being disowned by their parents and other family members."
This is why, Hamlin explained, "It is important that these practices are banned for all people. LGBTQ+ people are often very vulnerable, anyway, and these so-called 'conversion' techniques can cause lasting damage to the confidence of the individual victims as well making it difficult for them to build lasting relationships by destroying their confidence in those they love."
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"Being trans is not easy. No-one chooses to be trans. Why would they?" added Hamlin. "The only choice trans people have is whether to tell other people that they are trans and risk rejection – or even cruelty – from family and friends, or to keep it to oneself and risk damaging one's mental health. Being trans is not a mental health condition – though, sadly, negative treatment by others can severely damage people's mental health."
Stonewall, founded in 1989 by a small group of people, is the UK's leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, 'working to create a world where every lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer person is free to be themselves – wherever they are'. To get involved, visit the Stonewall website or for information and support contact its information service freephone on 0800 0502020, 9.30-4.30 Monday to Friday.
For help and advice for the transgender community visit the Beaumont Society's website, call its information line on 01582 412220 or visit the contact us page for details on its weekly helpline in association with transgenderzone.com.