Tuesday, August 9th 2022
Key Speakers Include:
Elliot Colburn MP, Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT+) Rights
Dr Craig French, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Nottingham
Ibtisam Ahmed, Head of Policy and Research at LGBT Foundation
Leni Morris, CEO of Galop
David Pearson, Trustee at ELOP – East London Out Project
Dr Kate Davison, Lecturer in the History of Sexuality at The University of Edinburgh (Event Chair)
Conversion therapy is an umbrella term to describe interventions of a wide-ranging nature, all of which have in common the belief that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity can and should be changed. In 2012, the Pan American Health Organization noted that conversion therapies had no medical justification and represented a severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons. In 2020, the Independent Forensic Expert Group declared that offering conversion therapy is a form of deception, false advertising and fraud. Government research from 2021 indicates that conversion therapy is still being used today on thousands of LGBT people in the UK, particularly in churches and other faith settings. The NHS and all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies in the UK have concluded conversion therapy to be dangerous and have signed a Memorandum of Understanding condemning it. Nevertheless, a 2018 YouGov survey commissioned by the charity Stonewall found that 5% of LGBT people in the UK have been pressured to access services to question or change their sexual orientation when accessing healthcare services. Among LGBT people aged 18-24 and among Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people, the figure is 9%; with 8% of LGBT disabled people targeted. Meanwhile, as many as 20% of transgender people have been pressured to access services to suppress their gender identity when accessing healthcare services.
After having declared in May 2021 that it would introduce measures to ban such “abhorrent practices which can cause mental and physical harm”, the government finally announced In March 2022 that it was dropping its plans, before hours later announcing that it would in fact indeed introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy – following angry reactions from LGBT campaigners and many MPs – but that the ban would only apply to LGB people, and not transgender people. In April, the government repeated that it was “committed to bringing forward legislation, when parliamentary time allows”. The legislation, which would apply to England and Wales, was subsequently announced in May’s Queen’s Speech. The Scottish Government, meanwhile, “has committed to introducing legislation by the end of 2023 which will end conversion practices as comprehensively as possible within devolved powers”, with an expert group being “established to advise the Scottish Government on the banning of conversion practices, which aim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy was “shocked and disappointed” by the government’s “inadequate” decision to omit trans people from its proposals to ban conversion therapy, insisting on the “need to protect all individuals and communities who are at risk of harm from conversion therapy”. Stonewall warned that the omission “leaves trans people, including trans children, at continued risk of abuse.” More broadly, the Coalition against Conversion Therapy have also warned, prior to the government’s announced partial ban, that: “A poorly worded definition of conversion therapy in the legislation will fail properly to protect everyone who is at risk of conversion therapy, and could ALSO have unintended consequences on the delivery of ethical therapeutic practices for people who wish to explore issues of sexuality and gender with trained, professional therapists”.
This symposium provides a timely opportunity for stakeholders to discuss the government’s plan to partially ban conversion therapy, as well as examine ways in which other relevant organisations, bodies and institutions can help to clamp down on the practice, support victims and survivors and protect those who are vulnerable and at risk.
- Discuss the government’s approach to banning conversion therapies
- Analyse Conversion Therapy Protection Orders and discuss key gaps and opportunities
- Highlight the case for extending the ban on conversion therapy to trans people
- Assess how the pandemic has affected global attempts to clamp down on conversion therapies
- Examine current support structures for victims and survivors of conversion therapy and assess what more is needed to ensure better support
- Identify ways to better protect those at risk of and vulnerable to being imposed or self-referred to conversion therapies
- Examine the drivers of conversion therapy, including religious reasons, and discuss how they can be addressed
- Compare international responses to conversion therapies and whether they can be applied to the UK
- Analyse the UK’s existing legislative framework and how it can be utilised to clamp down on practices that are used as part of conversion therapies
- Discuss the role of the police and health authorities in protecting those at risk of being subjected to conversion therapies
To register for the briefing, please click here.
Please feel free to circulate this information on to any relevant colleagues.
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