Guidance Notes for Individuals: Ban Conversion Therapy - Open Consultation

Guidance Notes for Individuals – Ban Conversion Therapy Consultation

The UK Government recently released its proposals for how it intends to ban conversion therapy in legislation, and now they are consulting on the details.

In their current form, the Government’s Conversion Therapy proposals are inadequate, unacceptable, not fit-for-purpose and contain significant, major loopholes.

The proposals do not provide sufficient protections for LGBTQ+ individuals within religious, cultural and family settings.

Some of our main concerns have been listed below, all of which have been communicated by our charity directly to the Government Equalities Office who are responsible for leading on this legislation.

Suppression – this significant omission is huge hole that creates a loophole sufficient enough to void the entirety of the proposed ban.

If you agree with the following statements please include them into your response to the government. See the links at the bottom of this post for how to respond.

  1. “Conversion Practices” vs. “Conversion Therapy” – The widely used definition of “Conversion Therapy” is increasingly being misunderstood to mean that the ban is only needed to stop ‘attempted conversions’ taking place within religious or therapy settings. However this is just the tip of the iceberg and the issue lies so much deeper than this. The ban needs to cover any attempt to change or suppress an LGBTQ+ person’s sexuality or gender identity – in any setting – including within familial settings, community settings, religious settings, online, at home, at places of worship, at ‘bootcamps’. “Conversion Practices” is a more suitable term to use within the final legislation as so much of this abuse occurs outside of therapy led environments.
  2. Suppression – The definition of the conversion therapy within Government’s proposal’s does not include any references to “suppression”. This significant omission is huge hole that creates a loophole sufficient enough to void the entirety of the proposed ban. Parents who attempt to suppress, hide or change the sexual orientation or gender identity of their LGBTQ+ child must be prevented from continuing this harmful abuse.
    1. For example, a parent emotionally blackmailing their gay child to marry someone of the opposite sex under duress, as an attempt to suppress or hide their child’s sexuality, is a form of ‘conversion practice’ and must stopped with this legislation. Existing laws on forced marriage or domestic abuse are not effective in this area.
  3. The caveat below (in italics) included in the proposals within “4. Summary of proposals” must be changed. As it is currently written the statement creates a loophole sufficient enough that will allow these abusive and harmful practices to continue after the ban has been introduced:
    1. 4. Summary of proposals“The policy approach set out below will not impact everyday religious practice. An adult who wants to be supported to be celibate will be free to do so, parents will remain able to raise their children with the values of their faith, and simply expressing the teachings of a religion will not constitute conversion therapy. The government will continue to work with faith communities to develop an approach that is effective in protecting people from harm, while also respecting the right to freedom of religion and belief.”

      A parent, or other family member, forcing homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, queerphobic views and using their religious interpretation as a form of justification to suppress, hide or change their LGBTQ+ child’s true identity… must be covered by the ban on conversion practices/therapy.

      The way a family member practices their religion is based on their own individual interpretation and perspective. They have a choice to be homophobic, or not. Their personal interpretation (of a teaching) must not be given a free pass that will allow them to continue their attempts to change or suppress their LGBTQ+ child’s sexual orientation or gender identity to meet their misguided belief that only being heterosexual, cisgendered and straight is acceptable.
  4. There are no references to culture within the proposals. Cultural practices that attempt to hide, suppress or change a person’s sexual orientation must also stopped. In many of the cases our charity supports the lines are blurred, by the family, between cultural and religious reasons for their behaviour.
  5. Consent and duress – LGBTQ+ individuals who have been systematically brainwashed by their families into believing that, for example, ‘being gay is not okay‘, may appear to give their ‘consent’ to exorcisms or ‘pray the gay away’ sessions, but in fact they are being emotionally abused by others who hold positions of power. They are made to believe that something is wrong with them that needs to be fixed. There are no references within the guidelines about protections for LGBTQ+ individuals who are under “duress” from their family to change their identity.
  6. There are no references within the proposals to how and who will enforce this legislation. Will the police and social services be trained, funded and be willing to respect and enforce this ban? Will funding be available to front line service like ours to provide support and guidance to affected individuals?
  7. Advertising/promotion guidelines, particularly on social media, do not provide sufficient protections.

Without all of the above issues being resolved the ban conversion therapy legislation will be ineffective and will not protect the individuals it is mean to protect.

Religion should never be used as an excuse or justification for abuse.

It’s important for us all to make our voices heard on this – to make sure the ban on conversion therapy is comprehensive and has no exemptions for religious or cultural practices that will lead to harm to LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Members of the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition, of which we are part of, have produced the following set of guidance notes to help individuals understand and complete the Government’s consultation response.

Guidance Notes

Produced by the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition

UK Government’s current set of proposals

UK Government’s consultation page


Learn more about the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition

Ban Conversion Therapy was created in July 2020 calling on the UK Government to commit to a full legislative ban.

We are a coalition of LGBTQIA+ and faith communities and organisations, and mental health practitioners united in calling for the Government to Ban Conversion Therapy and support victims and survivors.