Right now, over a million people in this country are still being told their sexual identity is a choice and that it can be cured. That is completely and utterly wrong. Sexual orientation is not a pathology, and most definitely should not be treated as one. Since my election I've been leading the campaign in Parliament to secure a ban on the fraudulent and abusive practice of LGBTQ+ so-called Conversion Therapy. I'm delighted the Government has announced in the Queen's Speech that a ban will be brought forward.
Current law does little to prevent ‘conversion therapy’ taking place in all but the most extreme cases. New and specific legislation banning ‘conversion therapy’ in England and Wales is therefore essential to protect individuals from this abhorrent practice.
Legislation to make so-called LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy an offence is needed, in order to:
- Stop those who provide the so-called therapy, which constitutes abuse and fraud,
- Stop those who treat sexual orientation as a pathology and tackle discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and communities
- Stop those who coerce others into receiving so-called “conversion therapy”,
- Stop those who advertise so-called “conversion therapy”,
- Stop those who take individuals abroad for “conversion therapy”, and
- Give victims the legal recourse they need.
Like Female Genital Mutilation, we need specific legislation, rather than relying on existing GBH laws not just to send a clear message, but crucially to enable us to ban its advertising, create protection orders, secure prosecutions for non-violent practices and provide financial support to victims.
News October 2021: Government Consultation Launched
Love is not a pathology, and it doesn’t need treating. Today’s proposals will protect LGBTQ+ people from bigotry and quackery packaged up by sinister charlatans to snare and profit off the vulnerable. I will examine the proposals in detail, but the proposed ban, protection orders and support for victims for which I’ve campaigned so long, are serious, meaningful and will save lives whist protecting freedom of religion.
I applaud the Government for these robust proposals and encourage everyone to respond to the consultation. I remain unconvinced that anyone can consent to such an abusive practice, and will look closely at the proposed ban to ensure that victims and survivors get the protections they need and deserve. I will also look at the common law definition of coercion to ensure it adequately supports victims of conversion therapy, and will also consider whether legislation should be extended to under 25s if the Government intends to allow adults to "consent" to this fraudulent and abusive practice.
Alicia Kearns writes for Conservative Home
As Conservatives, our calling card must be the defence of individual freedoms. Surely, we must all believe that it is better when individuals have as much liberty to define for themselves their own happiness, so long as it is done within the bounds of a stable, law-abiding society?
LGBTQ+ so called conversion therapy is utterly incompatible with that vision, which is why I have campaigned to end it.
I want to take a look at some of the arguments being made against this Bill, and hopefully demonstrate why ultimately what we all need is to take the heat out of this discussion, get the facts right, and a good shot of empathy on all sides... [Read more}
NEWS May 2021: Conversion Therapy Ban Announced in Queen's Speech!
Her Majesty The Queen has announced that the Government will legislate to ban LGBTQ+ so-called Conversion Therapy in the Queen’s Speech today.
Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, who has led the campaign to ban LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy in Parliament said:
“The Queen’s speech today sends a very powerful message: love is not a pathology, and it does not need treating. LGBTQ+ so-called Conversion Therapy is little more than bigotry and quackery packaged up by sinister charlatans to snare and profit off the vulnerable.
“Since my election I’ve worked tirelessly to secure this ban, which is a tribute to the survivors of conversion therapy, to those whose lives were lost too soon because of this abhorrent abuse, and to all those hurting or made ashamed for being who they are.
“This ban will see our Government ensure that LGBTQ+ people have the liberty to live their lives free from identity-based violence and abuse.”
Professor Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury
'Whatever our convictions, it is right that we should all be held to the highest standards of personal care and respect, and I welcome this announcement as an opportunity for co-operation and learning how to secure these standards and protect the vulnerable.'
Since her election in December 2019, MP for Rutland and Melton Alicia has led the campaign in Parliament to ban this practice, worked with campaigners such as Stephen Fry, former Archbishop of Canterbury the Rt. Revd. Dr Rowan Williams, the Coalition for the MOU against Conversion Therapy, the Ozanne Foundation, Stonewall, the Royal College of Psychotherapists, the Albany Trust, GLADD, Mermaids, the Inter-Religious Advisory Board of the Ozanne Foundation, and a number of further University and charity partners.
Update May 2021: Attitude Magazine Article
Ahead of the Queen's Speech I set out my hope that a Conversion Therapy ban will be announced: https://attitude.co.uk/article/gay-conversion-therapy-is-inherently-abusive-banning-it-is-long-overdue-1/24956/
Update April 2021: Cross Party Event with Stephen Fry and Dr Rowan Williams
This month I arranged, and took part in, a number of events with MPs, mental health practitioners and more to discuss why a ban is needed.
My contribution can be found here: https://youtu.be/qfw6-gIlyiU Thank you to the Albany Trust, MOU Coalition, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Stephen Fry's speech can be found here: https://youtu.be/60kTG9h3fb4
Update April 2021: Event with Dr. Ranj Singh and Mental Health Professionals
Working with the BACP, UKCP, BPC, BPS, RCPsych & the wider MOU Coalition I held a discussion with Dr Ranj Singh on the impact of a Conversion Therapy.ban on mental health and wider health professionals.
Update March 2021: Meeting with LGBTQ+ Advocacy Groups
It was a privilege to meet with organisations against Conversion Therapy and survivors of this abhorrent practice to discuss next steps to secure legislation.
Update March 2021: Radio 4 Report on Conversion Therapy
BBC Radio 4 published an important report on Conversion Therapy which I was pleased to contribute to: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000sz1y
Update March 2021: Westminster Hall Debate
I'm pleased that the public petition to ban Conversion Therapy was debated in Parliament this month,. My speech in full is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2VORXT9o_s
Update March 2021: Written Question to GEO
Submitted written question regarding reviews of legislative bans from other countries.
Update March 2021: UN Women's Event on LGBTQ+
I advocated at a side event to the UN’s 65th Commission on the Status of Women that women must push for a ban on Conversion Therapy in all our countries. The event was entitled “Women Leaders as Advocates for Equality and Inclusion of LGBTI+ Persons".
Update February 2021: Meeting with LGBTQ+ Advocacy Groups
It was a pleasure to meet again with the organisations who have been fighting for so long to secure a ban on Conversion Therapy to discuss next steps to secure legislation.
Update February 2021: Article in the House Magazine
To mark LGBTQ+ History Month I wrote this article to fellow MPs urging a ban on Conversion Therapy.
Update January 2021: Letter to Prime Minister
I wrote again this month to the Prime Minister urging for the ban on Conversion Therapy to be brought forward urgently.
Update January 2021: Meeting with LGBTQ+ Advocacy Groups
I met with LGBTQ+ survivors and advocacy groups to discuss how to engage with MPs and Peers on a ban on conversion therapy.
Update January 2021: Written Question to FCDO
Submitted a written question regarding which countries the UK Government is supporting efforts to end LGBTQ+ conversion therapy.
Update December 2020: Meeting with LGBTQ+ Advocacy Groups
I met with LGBTQ+ survivors and advocacy groups to discuss progress on the campaign.
Update October 2020: Agreed Definition of Conversion Therapy
To deliver a ban on conversion therapy there needs to be an agreed legal definition of what the practice entails that can be used as a basis for legislation. I have this month delivered a draft definition to Government for consideration as they progress legislation, for which I've secured the backing of survivors, 15 major LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and 10 religious representatives who represent all major faiths in our country.
The proposed definition of Conversion Therapy is:
- (Conversion Therapy) encompass all medical, psychiatric, psychological, cultural, religious or any other interventions that seek to erase, repress or change the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of a person, including aversive therapies or any other procedure that involves an attempt to convert, cancel or suppress sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.
- Conversion Therapy does not include practices that— (a) assists a person who is undergoing a gender transition; or (b) assists a person who is considering undergoing a gender transition; or (c) assists a person to express their gender identity; or (d) provides acceptance, support and understanding of a person in exploration of their sexuality or gender identity; or (e) facilitates a person’s coping skills, social support and identity exploration and development.
Update September 2020: Pressed the Equalities Secretary for an Update on Legislation
Today I pressed the Equalities Secretary to provide a timeline on legislation and an update on progress to deliver it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdg2_Yo-EQU
News September 2020: Secured the Support of the Health Secretary
Today I raised Conversion Therapy with the Health Secretary and am delighted to have secured his support for a ban. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cdGefFacH4
News September 2020: Issues around Conversion Therapy Legislation
I'm aware of concerns around the legislation, these seem to focus around the following:
- Consent: No child is able to consent, making legislation for under 18s more straightforward. For over 18s HMG should focus legislation on those responsible for advertising and conducting the “conversion therapy”, not prosecuting those who may or may not have consented to it. So, it would not be unlawful to purchase or seek out “conversion therapy”, but it would be illegal to provide it. However, it should be noted that Parliament and our courts have long recognised that one cannot consent to bodily harm and torture, and consent for conversion therapy should equally be treated in this way, especially this should seek to provide parity between mental torture, and physical torture, as we have in other legislation around ABH, domestic abuse and beyond. As such, as one cannot consent to ABH mental abuse, one cannot consent to conversion therapy which is a fraudulent and abusive practice,
- Transgender counselling vs “conversion therapy”: Those individuals who associate or identify as a different gender or wish to change gender, are protected by existing legislation and can access this regulated support through the NHS. It is suggested a specific exemption is placed in the legislation for professionally accredited, or CQC registered individuals, who form a register of approved therapists / practitioners who can support those undergoing a gender transition, and this is covered by the suggested legislative wording set out above, and has the support of transgender community groups. It is quite straight-forward to introduce a safeguard for professionally accredited individuals who assist persons considering undergoing a gender transition. I know that CT falls disproportionately on those people who are trans, so any ban excluding trans people leaves those at most risk still entirely vulnerable. That would make any legislation self-defeating. The proposed definition includes a safeguard modelled on that from the Australian State of Queensland’s legislation to safeguard professionally accredited individuals who assist persons considering undergoing a gender transition,
- Faith Concerns: The suggested legislation I have proposed does not prevent individuals from seeking guidance from faith leaders regarding their personal beliefs or sexual orientation but ensures that those faith leaders may not attempt any so-called “therapy”. It also does not criminalise private prayer. Whilst this is not a fail-safe, the legislation would enable anyone who sought religious guidance but then felt victimised by improper practices by that religious figure to seek legal recourse. This is not about prosecuting religious leaders for their desire to support members of their congregation, nor the extension of the state into legislating for private prayer. Religious leaders across the UK have given their backing to a ban on conversion therapy, an article in Pink News signed by senior religious leaders of major faiths called for an urgent ban on Conversion Therapy. I have also engaged with representatives of all major faiths, and as this letter shows, representatives of all major religions have given their specific backing to the legislative wording and definition set out above. The proposed definition specifically states: (d) provides acceptance, support and understanding of a person in exploration of their sexuality or gender identity. This aims to create a protection for religious leaders, and others, to hold conversations and dialogue with their members of their congregations.
Update August 2020: Meeting with Trans Activists and Survivors of Conversion Therapy
Arranged a meeting for MPs with Trans survivors of Conversion Therapy.
Update July 2020: Article in Attitude Magazine
As part of my campaign I wrote this month in Attitude Magazine about why I'm determined to deliver a ban on Conversion Therapy.
News June 2020: Raised Banning Conversion Therapy with the Prime Minister
I raised with the Prime Minister the importance of banning LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy and was pleased to receive his support for banning what he called an abhorrent practice.
Update May 2020: Meeting with LGBTQ+ Advocacy Groups
I met with LGBTQ+ survivors and advocacy groups to discuss progress on the campaign.
News March 2020: Legislative Proposal Developed
I believe that legislation and activities in England and Wales should specifically enable:
- Criminalisation of a person who:
- Forces someone to undergo “conversion therapy” under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and for children using existing child abuse legislation to prosecute parents or legal guardians for making their children take part and in addition for doing so through deception, coercion or threats,
- Aids, abets counsels or procures any person to use medical, therapeutic, holistic or psychotherapy treatments or interventions to change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation or manifestation of that sexual orientation or desired gender identity and expression (the act may take place anywhere in the world provided that the act is done by a United Kingdom national or resident). Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring can occur by many means, including online. This should include knowingly providing or making use of a premise for the hosting of conversion therapy,
- Fails to protect a child (under 16) from “conversion therapy” (this is for parents / legal guardians), and
- Advertises provision of “conversion therapy” (if this is not possible, see point 6).
- Introduction of Conversion Therapy Protection Orders made by the Family Court (civil law – although a breach is a criminal offence) to protect those children or vulnerable adults at risk of “conversion therapy”,
- Introduction of a legal mandatory duty to report to police known or suspected cases of children under 18 of “conversion therapy” placed on health and social care professionals, and teachers,
- Introduction of a duty for survivors of “conversion therapy” to be entitled to support under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime,
- Introduction of lifelong anonymity for victims of “conversion therapy”,
- To ensure fraudulent advertisers of “conversion therapy” are stopped by being eligible to be reported and prosecuted under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008,
- It is also recommended that a specific pot of funding is created for a “Conversion Therapy” phoneline, to be run by a LGBTQ+ charity with the requisite training to which individuals can whistle-blow, but moreover seek counselling and support, and
- A Public communications campaign to accompany the new legislation and launch of the phoneline, working with religious and community figures.
December 2019: Elected and Come to Parliament Committed to Deliver a Ban on LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy
Love is Love.