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Conversion Therapy Ban: Faith-based Settings

Volume 704: debated on Wednesday 24 November 2021

8. Whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ban sexual orientation and gender identity conversion therapy that occurs in religious or faith-based settings through prayer healing, faith declarations, religious conversion courses and other non-physical practices. (904387)

There is no place for the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy in our society. Our proposals will ensure that LGBT people can live their lives free from harm, will stop under-18s making irreversible decisions about their future, and will protect freedom of speech and choice.

The national LGBT survey found that 51% of conversion therapy happens in religious settings and Government-commissioned research found that adult victims often undertake religious conversion practices voluntarily, so the Government’s proposal to allow informed consent for conversion therapy will permit that abuse to continue and risks introducing consent defences to other forms of abuse, such as domestic violence. Can the Secretary of State confirm whether a conversion therapy ban will cover non-physical conversion practices in religious settings, including prayer? Will she remove the dangerous consent loophole?

What is important is that we ensure that people are not coerced into conversion therapy, but it is also important to protect freedom of speech, the ability of adults to consent and the freedom to express the teachings of—[Interruption.] I hear Opposition Members asking whether freedom of speech is a good thing. Yes, it is.