So called “Conversion therapy” is used to describe wide-ranging interventions that intend to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The UK Government have outlined their proposals to ban conversion therapy in England and Wales. Their plans sit alongside a 6-week public consultation, which will close on 10 December.
We have put together this blog post to make sense of what this means for all people in Wales and to help you consider how you can respond to ensure that the damaging and degrading practice of conversion therapy is outlawed for good. There is no excuse for abuse.
The proposed ban will cover both England and Wales, although there are elements which Wales may have to legislate to make sure that all places where conversion therapy can take place in Wales are protected.
The proposals from the UK Government represent a huge step forward, by proposing a new offence for non-physical “talking” conversion therapy and introducing sentencing uplifts for existing physical and violent offences. The proposals would provide a support package for victims of conversion therapy and introduce protection orders for potential victims. Importantly, the measures represent a ban on conversion therapy itself, which covers both sexual orientation and gender identity as well as banning the promotion, endorsement and advertising of so-called ‘conversion therapies’.
How Can They Improve?
Although the proposals are strong, we believe that they can be improved. Firstly, they can be improved by making sure they remove the principle that adults can ‘consent’ to conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is by its very nature abusive and dangerous, and it cannot be meaningfully consented to. Many people will be left unprotected by the legislation if this is not changed, particularly those who undergo conversion therapy in religious and faith-based settings, which account for the majority of conversion therapy in the UK.
The changes should also include a more comprehensive definition of conversion therapy than included, based on banning all attempts to not only ‘change’ a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but also the suppression of these. Proposals should also be widened to include asexual, non-binary and intersex people.
The Picture in Wales
Here in Wales, all political parties who attended our Hustings event ahead of the Senedd Elections committed to ending conversion therapy in Wales. This is also a key commitment in the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government and the draft LGBTQ+ Action Plan.
We want to see Welsh Government highlight their perspective on the proposals as well as what will need to be done in the Senedd to ensure that all LGBTQ+ people in Wales are protected.
What can I do?
You can help to support the banning of conversion therapy by responding to the consultation, outlining your perspective and experience into the process, as well as your opinion on whether the UK government plans go far enough.
The consultation itself is comprised of 14 multiple choice questions and 7 open text questions, although you will not need to answer them all. Many of the questions enable you to provide your opinions and input your experiences into to process. You can find useful guidance for responding to the consultation on the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition website.
You can also write to your Members of the Senedd. Find your members. Ask them to support the ban on conversion therapy.
We can’t afford to wait. Together we can end conversion therapy.