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Conversion Therapy

Volume 691: debated on Wednesday 24 March 2021

I am committed to banning conversion therapy. It is an abhorrent practice and I will shortly be bringing forward plans to do just that.

I am grateful for that response. I am absolutely clear that this practice has no place in a civilised society. Being from the LGBT+ community is not an illness to be treated or cured, and I agree with the Prime Minister who calls conversion therapy “abhorrent” and “repulsive”. In the light of this, what can the Minister do to accelerate the ban?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have been working to make sure that the measures that we put in place are enforceable and fully researched. I am confident that we will be able to announce progress on this very soon.

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (John Lamont) and the hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton (Dr Huq) are absolutely right to condemn this dreadful practice. The problem with it is that not only is it cruel, but it does not work—it is absolutely pointless. As well as imposing a ban, what can my right hon. Friend do to educate religions or other groups who think that this abhorrent practice has a purpose?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend that practices that harm or try to convert somebody into being something they are not, are not just wrong but completely inappropriate and unacceptable. That is why we will be bringing forward our plans to ban this practice very shortly. He is right that it should be true in all circumstances, including with religious practices. Of course, we must protect religious free speech, but we cannot condone those harmful practices taking place.

It is good to hear the Minister’s words after three years of dither and delay that have cost the Government three members of their LGBT panel. Can she now give us a legislative timetable for when ending this archaic practice of conversion therapy will be on the statute book once and for all?

I agree with the hon. Lady that we need to get on with doing this. I can assure her that since I got this job a year ago I have been working to make sure that the ban we put in place is properly enforceable and has the right measures in place. We have been looking at international experience to ensure that we do this correctly, but I am very keen to get on with it and I can assure the hon. Lady that we are very much on it.

The Minister will be aware that it has been almost three years since the Government committed to ending the practice of conversion therapy. Will she therefore take this opportunity to apologise to all those who have been harmed by these abhorrent practices as a result of the Government’s inaction, and commit today to bringing forward a full legislative ban on practices to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, to give all LGBT people the protection that they deserve?

I am very clear that these practices are utterly abhorrent. I would point out that I have been in this job for a year and I have been working to make sure that the ban we put in place is enforceable. I have also dealt with a number of other long-standing issues, such as responding to the consultation on the reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to make the process simpler and kinder for transgender people, improving transgender health care and changing the blood donation criteria for gay men donating blood. We are also working on an international LGBT conference, entitled Safe to Be Me, to end discrimination across the world. It is always important with legislation to ensure that we get it right and that it is properly enforceable, and we will be bringing plans forward shortly.