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Conversion Therapy: Legislation

Volume 723: debated on Wednesday 30 November 2022

3. What the Government’s planned timetable is for bringing forward legislative proposals on conversion therapy. (902539)

The Government are committed to protecting people from these practices. We are carefully considering the responses to the public consultation on banning conversion practices, which closed this year, and we will set out our next steps and the Government’s response in due course.

That is a deeply disappointing answer, because every day that the Minister delays the Bill, LGBT individuals can be subject to abhorrent and deeply damaging conversion therapy. It is now eight months since the consultation closed, and four years since the Government first promised a ban, so I beg the Minister to bring forward a Bill as soon as possible. Will she reassure the House that the Government’s proposed legislation will bring in a comprehensive ban on all forms of conversion therapy, and include the protection of trans people?

This is a very serious issue, and one reason that it is taking so long is that we are being very considered. Many of the things that people asked for when we first started talking about conversion therapy practices are different from what we are looking at now, so the scope has widened. More importantly, I reassure LGBT people that we can tackle these issues with existing law. We are being very careful in our considerations of what will come into the Bill. The answer that the hon. Lady is requesting will follow on from the consultation, and that will come in due course.

A lot of words and no action. In 2018 a promise was made that conversion practices would be banned. Four years and four Prime Ministers later, this disastrous Tory Government are going backwards with some on their Benches actively fanning the flames of hatred and bigotry towards trans people. When will this Tory Government follow the lead of the SNP Government in Scotland, take action to ban conversion practices, and stop putting trans peoples’ lives at risk?

The hon. Lady from the SNP is, of course, talking absolute nonsense. Government Members are legislators and what we are going to do is bring a robust Bill into law, not one that will be helpful for her to send her tweets. This is about looking after vulnerable people and not about social media campaigning.

Does my right hon. Friend understand the LGBT community’s anxiety when it comes to the ban? It has appeared in multiple Queen’s Speeches, yet we are still to see any draft legislation.

My hon. Friend asks a good question. I do understand the anxiety. One of the things that I am trying to do is take a lot of the heat out of the debate. Questions such as that from the hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell), which seek to inflame anxiety and make people worried about what we are doing, are not helpful. This is something that I am committed to doing. He is right that we have raised it and promised it multiple times. The reason it is taking so long is that it is not as simple as Opposition Members would like it to be. This is a very complex area and, when we do it, we will do it right and permanently.

My constituent Paula Wren is proud to be trans and proud to be a Conservative. She would call straightforwardly for an end to the absurd practice of conversion therapy. It is completely unnecessary for trans people, and the sooner the Government can bring in the Bill, the better it will be.

Last year, the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss)—the most recent former Prime Minister—described conversion therapy as an “abhorrent practice” in the ministerial foreword to the Government’s consultation on banning conversion therapy. Some 11% of trans people in the UK report having been subjected to that so-called therapy by their own families, and those individuals who are subjected to the practice are significantly more likely to have attempted suicide than their peers. I am disappointed in what I have heard, which seems like more kicking into the long grass. Does the right hon. Lady understand that conversion therapy is abhorrent? If so, why will her Government not commit to preventing this harm to trans people by banning the practice for everyone?

It is quite clear that the hon. Lady did not hear any of the answers that I have given, because she has asked something that I have answered multiple times. I refer her to the answers I gave to all those hon. Members.