A plan to ban gay conversion therapy will be brought back by the government and will include the outlawing of trans conversion therapy, the culture secretary has confirmed.
The policy had been proposed several times by successive Conservative governments, starting with Theresa May back in 2018.
Boris Johnson also supported the move, but after a raft of U-turns, he eventually dropped protections for trans people last year after some Tory MPs voiced concerns about parents supporting children who are questioning their gender identity.
Now, Michelle Donelan has issued a written statement to the Commons promising a new draft law that would include the measure.
“We recognise the strength of feeling on the issue of harmful conversion practices and remain committed to protecting people from these practices and making sure they can live their lives free from the threat of harm or abuse,” she wrote.
“It is right that this issue is tackled through a dedicated and tailored legislative approach, which is why we are announcing today that the government will publish a draft bill which will set out a proposed approach to ban conversion practices, this will apply to England and Wales.
“The bill will protect everyone, including those targeted on the basis of their sexuality, or being transgender.”
The announcement comes amid a row over Scotland’s gender reform bill, which the UK government has taken the unprecedented decision to block from Westminster.
What is conversion therapy?
Also called cure therapy or reparative therapy, conversion therapy refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or suppress a person’s gender identity.
Therapies and prayer can be used, while more extreme forms can include “exorcisms, physical violence and food deprivation”, Jayne Ozanne, a former government equality adviser said.
LGBT charity Stonewall says conversion therapy is based on an assumption that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be “cured”.
The NHS and other professional bodies have warned all forms of conversion therapy are “unethical and potentially harmful”.