I am committed to ensuring that LGBT+ people can live in safety and dignity, and for that reason, conversion therapies must be banned. I firmly believe conversion therapies are exploitative and damaging. Being LGBT+ is a fundamental part of an individual’s identity, and it should never be treated as a sickness. Indeed, all major UK therapy professional bodies and the NHS oppose conversion therapy.
I am very worried about the harm caused to LGBT+ people by these therapies. It is deeply concerning that the Ozanne Foundation’s 2018 Faith & Sexuality Survey found that over 58% of people who had experienced attempts to change their sexual orientation had suffered from mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Worryingly, two-thirds of those who had experienced mental health issues had experienced suicidal thoughts, and nearly a third had attempted suicide.
Conversion therapies must urgently be banned. As I am sure you know, in July 2018, the UK Government committed to bringing forward proposals to end conversion therapy in the UK. I am deeply disappointed that, nearly three years later, we are still waiting.
LGBT+ people are experiencing harms from conversion therapies every day. The longer we wait for action, the longer they are denied legal redress. I firmly believe we need to introduce legislation, such as protection orders for people who are vulnerable to pressure to suppress, deny or forcibly change their sexuality or gender identity. Crucially, introducing legislation to ban conversion therapy would allow statutory services to work together to support people in need. Keir Starmer recently affirmed Labour’s commitment to this ban, which you can see here .
In March 2021, the UK Government said it will shortly be bringing forward plans to ban conversion therapy. I have written to the Minister and I assure you I will monitor developments on this important issue closely. Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary is also taking this forward on behalf of the Shadow Cabinet.
In July 2020, the Scottish Government said they are supportive of moves by the UK Government to end conversion therapy. While the UK Government has said ending conversion therapy will require a UK-wide approach, both devolved and reserved responsibilities can tackle this practice.
More widely, I welcome the fact that Instagram and Facebook have blocked the promotion of conversion therapy on their sites, and I hope other social media companies will follow suit.