I am fully supportive of the view that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is not an illness to be cured. Like many of my constituents who have contacted me, I am deeply concerned by the long-term impacts of this practice on people both mentally and physically, in particular, the link between conversion therapy and suicide. I am therefore very supportive of the UK Government’s proposed ban, which is currently subject to consultation.
With regard to trans people, whilst I am entirely sympathetic to those in the trans community who feel that they are not receiving equal treatment, I do see this as slightly different issue. Being gay, lesbian or bisexual does not require significant medical intervention, hormone treatment or surgery. It seems to me to be understandable that someone who is considering transitioning and undertaking irreversible medical intervention can have the ability to carefully consider the steps, as well as the emotional response and risk of undertaking such significant changes. Outlawing any form of therapy in this instance would run the risk of disempowering people and refusing them the opportunity to explore the matter carefully before making life changing decisions. This is not about making therapy compulsory – it is about keeping it available for those who choose to access it.
The consultation was accepting contributions until 4 February and the UK Government is currently analysing these responses. I understand that as part of this review, the Government is considering whether existing law can be used to achieve these aims rather than new laws – which take time to bring on to the statute book. This seems to me to be a reasonable consideration and I await the announcement.
I should add that Members of Parliament who have stated that they are concerned about a blanket ban on therapy have started to receive abusive and threatening messages – with an explicit threat that this will escalate unless they change their minds. This is now how we operate in a parliamentary democracy.