British Government to Ban Conversion Therapy

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The British government this week said it will ban so-called conversion therapy in the U.K.

The British government on Tuesday announced it will ban so-called conversion therapy in the U.K.

The ban is among the 75 recommendations to promote equality and fight discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity that the government made in response to a nationwide survey of more than 108,000 LGBTI people it launched in July 2017.

Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt in the survey’s executive summary notes two percent of respondents said they had “undergone conversion or reparative therapy in an attempt to ‘cure’ them of being LGBT” and another five percent of respondents said they “had been offered it.”

“We will bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the U.K.,” said the government in its “LGBT Action Plan: Improving the Lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexuals and Transgender People” document that it submitted to Parliament. “These activities are wrong, and we are not willing to let them continue.”

The Government Equalities Office will lead efforts to ban the highly discredited practice.

“We will fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy,” said the government. “Our intent is to protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial or faith-based context.”

The government added it is “not trying to prevent LGBT people from seeking legitimate medical support or spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall, a British LGBTI advocacy group, in a statement said it is “absolutely vital that more is done to stamp out this demeaning and unethical act.” Hunt also welcomed the government’s recommendations as “an important first step.”

“But we must see action that leads to tangible change,” added Hunt.

The government released the results of the survey and its recommendations less than three months after Prime Minister Theresa May said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual relations the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries. British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch last month urged these nations that have yet to repeal these laws to do so.

“We just urge all of our friends and partners in other countries around the world to move on as we have done to make their societies more open, more liberal, to embrace anti-discrimination in relation to the LGBT community as we have,” Darroch told the Washington Blade during an interview at the British Embassy in D.C. before its annual Pride month reception. “It just makes your society a better place.”


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