According to the new statesman, since 2018 the Conservative government has promised to ban conversion therapy 35 times, within this time, eight countries have banned the practise. Eventually almost four years later the government finally announced they will ban conversion ‘therapy’, however only for gay and bisexual people, not for ‘consenting adults’ or transgender people. They have said this is because of the “complexity of issues” which surrounds banning transgender conversion ‘therapy’. Since then, various LGBTQ+ rights organisations such as Stonewall, have condemned the government’s decision, and a e-petition was signed by almost 150,000 people to ensure Trans people are fully protected under any conversion ‘therapy’ ban. Parliament has since debated the e-petition however the government has not yet stated that they will include trans people or ‘consenting’ adults in the ban.
Transgender rights across the world are under attack, including in the UK. Last year the court of appeals, overturned the judgement which allowed under 16s to be prescribed puberty-blocking drugs. This ruling along with excluding trans people from the ban, feeds into the transphobic belief that trans people (particularly young trans people) are confused or ‘going along with the trends’, and do not need access to necessary healthcare. Its therefore essential the government acts to help protect trans people in these uncertain times for their rights.
Another group left out the ban, are ‘consenting’ adults. This kind of phrasing from the government is dangerous as it will still allow for vulnerable people who believe conversion ‘therapy’ will work for them to cure their ‘gayness’ or ‘transness’, to be abused. It also gives anti-LGBTQ+ individuals in healthcare, religious and cultural organisations a loophole allowing them the opportunity to exploit their positions. By excluding consenting adults from the ban, they are failing their duties, as they are protecting the abusers not the people vulnerable to abuse.
This half-hearted ban on conversion therapy from the government will be dangerous for LGBTQ+ people’s mental health. According to Mind, on average 3 in 100 people out of the general population have depression. According to a Stonewall report in 2018 just over half of LGBTQ+ people have depression. LGBTQ+ people suffer higher rates of mental health problems (caused by the stigma and discrimination around the community not simply being Gay or Trans), its essential the government takes action to improve LGBTQ+ mental health, not doing the complete opposite which is what they are doing now with their exclusive ban on conversion therapy. By keeping trans people and consenting adults out of the ban they are allowing for emotional abuse resulting in high levels of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts which can take years of therapy to reverse the effects of.
In conclusion what the LGBTQ+ community needs from the government is their full commitment to the community’s rights, not half-hearted attempts like their conversion therapy ban, which still actively discriminates against sections of the LGBTQ+ community. Whilst the PM and other senior figures have condemned the practise, why are their words not matching their actions? Their exclusion of trans people from the ban has been debated in Parliament recently, so hopefully the government will come to their senses and ban the practise for everyone.