British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing criticism and backlash over his delay in implementing a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban, a move that has stirred intense lobbying from anti-trans Conservative MP Miriam Cates.
Conversion therapy, aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, has been widely condemned for its harmful effects. Former Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to outlaw this practice five years ago, but the promised ban, which includes protection for trans individuals, remains elusive. This inaction has drawn strong condemnation from MPs, charities, and LGBTQ+ activists.
In a bid to halt the progress of the Conversion Therapy Bill, Cates has been actively urging fellow Tory MPs to sign a letter opposing it. She argued that the bill would “anger our base, split the party, and effectively put a Stonewall charter into law.”
While there were earlier reports suggesting that Sunak would introduce a draft bill banning conversion therapy in the upcoming King’s Speech on November 5th, Cates expressed concern about this development. However, it is now reported that Sunak intends to delay the ban by publishing a draft bill for pre-legislative scrutiny, meaning it may not become law until after the next general election.
Critics argue that such delays could have severe consequences, potentially criminalizing parents and doctors who provide counseling to children exploring their gender identity. The Observer has expressed concern over the ban, suggesting that it could harm children’s welfare and lead to therapists being criminalized. In contrast, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like LGBT Humanists stress the psychological distress caused by conversion therapy and support a ban to protect vulnerable individuals.
Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition chair Jayne Ozanne emphasized public support for a ban, pointing to a YouGov poll showing majority support. She criticized the Tories for their U-turns on promises to ban conversion therapy, while advocating for a fully inclusive ban.
In addition to the conversion therapy issue, Cates has also called for a ban on recognizing trans students’ gender identity in schools and opposes social transitioning for children in school settings, with or without parental consent.
The delay in the trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban highlights the ongoing debate over LGBTQ+ rights and protections in the UK, leaving activists and advocates concerned about the well-being of trans individuals in the country.