The government has confirmed at the Queen’s Speech that trans people will not be covered in a long delayed ban on “abhorrent” conversion therapy practices.
And the ban on homosexual conversion therapy will cover all attempts to induce children to switch their sexual orientation, but will apply to over-18s only if they do not consent to the process or are forced or coerced into undergoing “therapy”.
It comes after Boris Johnson was forced to partially U-turn on leaked plans to drop a legislative ban on the discredited practises, which seek to suppress or change an individual’s sexuality or gender identity, entirely.
After a major row with LGBT+ campaign groups, the prime minister swiftly recommitted to a legislative ban on conversion therapy for gay and bisexual people, but not for trans individuals.
As expected, the Queen’s Speech makes clear a Conversion Therapy Bill, will be introduced seeking to “ban conversion therapy practices intended to change sexual orientation” which cause “extensive harm”.
The government said the move will “protect people’s personal liberty to love who they want to love”.
But despite describing the practice as “abhorrent”, the prime minister’s spokesperson said: “If you are over 18 you can consent to conversion therapy.” The principle of consent would not apply, however, where practices are deemed to cause “serious harm” to the subject of the supposed therapy.
A document produced by the government said it would strengthen existing criminal law to ensure “violent conversion therapy is recognised as a potential aggravating factor upon sector”.
A criminal offence will also be introduced “banning non-physical conversion therapies to complement existing legislation which protects people from act which inflict physical harm”.
It will also ensure those found guilty of “conversion therapy offences have any profit they obtained from those crimes removed” and “strengthening the case for such individuals” from holding senior charity roles.
Making clear trans conversion therapies won’t be covered by the proposed legislative ban, the document added: “Recognising the complexity of issues and the need for further careful thought, we will carry out separate work to consider the issue of transgender conversion therapy further”.
The move — first unveiled last month — was met with dismay from LGBT groups, including over 100 organisations that pulled their support from the government’s long-touted international LGBT conference.
Jayne Ozanne, a former government LGBT+ adviser, said that while she was “relieved” ministers were still pledging to ban the practice “they are creating so many loopholes and leaving so many people unprotected”.
She added: “The government’s own research shows that trans people are twice as likely to be offered “conversion therapy” and it is an utter disgrace that they have purposefully omitted them from the ban.
“The government’s duty is to protect the most vulnerable from abuse, not to side with the abusers. By creating a loophole of consent, the government continues to ignore the advice of legal experts and survivors like myself, who know that this will continue to put many lives at risk.”