Boris Johnson has dramatically dropped government plans to ban so-called LGBT conversion therapy, it has been confirmed.
A leaked Downing Street briefing seen by ITV News said “the Prime Minister has agreed that we should not go ahead with legislation” to ban the practice.
In response, a government spokesman said they had decided to consider how the existing law could be applied more effectively as well as “other non-legislative measures”.
The move was condemned by Liberal Democrats as giving a “green light to a form of torture” and a “total betrayal” of the LGBT community.
The announcement came just a day after Equality Minister Mike Freer told MPs the government was ‘fully committed’ to the legislation and work was ‘moving at pace’.
However, the leaked briefing paper revealed that ministers involved in crafting the legislation – including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is also the Equalities Secretary – were not made aware of the decision. .
“While Liz is not ideologically committed to the legislation, she is likely to be concerned about owning the new position, having been personally committed to delivering the bill,” he said.
He warned that Mr Freer could resign and that the Prime Minister’s special envoy on LGBT issues, Lord Herbert, could also consider his position.
The government has abandoned plans to legislate to ban so-called conversion therapy, it has been confirmed. ITV News has obtained a leaked document stating that ‘the Prime Minister has agreed that we should not go ahead with the legislation’
The U-turn comes after Equality Minister Mike Freer told MPs on Wednesday the government was ‘fully committed’ to the legislation
Conversion therapy refers to the pseudo-scientific practice of trying to change one’s sexual orientation.
The term is used for any form of treatment or psychotherapy that aims to reduce or stop same-sex attraction, but also extends to techniques used to attempt to remove a person’s gender identity.
While violent forms of therapy are already illegal under other offences, the proposed legislation would make all coercive conversion therapy illegal.
The practice of conversion therapy is widely considered unethical, but advocates remain.
Techniques used before the 1980s in conversion therapy included extreme treatments like lobotomies, chemical castration, and hormone therapies.
More recently, treatment has focused on counseling, visualization, social skills training, psychotherapy, and spiritual interventions.
Annelise Dodds, leader of the Labor Party and secretary of Shadow Equality, today said the Government’s U-turn on conversion therapy legislation was an ‘outrageous move’.
“A government that thinks conversion therapy is acceptable in 21st century Britain is no friend to the LGBT+ community,” she tweeted.
Yesterday, Equality Minister Mike Freer told MPs the Government was ‘fully committed’ to bringing forward proposals to ban conversion therapy practices and that work was ‘moving on pace’.
Mr Freer told the Commons: ‘We remain fully committed to bringing forward proposals to ban conversion therapy practices. We recently concluded a period of consultation and these proposals are being analysed, on which we will develop legislation which will be presented later this spring.
Labour’s Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) asked: ‘On the issue of conversion therapy, as he rightly said, it has now been two months since the consultation on the banning of therapy conversion has been completed. It has been almost three years since the government pledged to ban this insidious practice. Why is it taking so long?’
Annelise Dodds, leader of the Labor Party and secretary of Shadow Equality, today said the Government’s U-turn on conversion therapy legislation was an ‘outrageous move’. “A government that believes conversion therapy is acceptable in 21st century Britain is no friend to the LGBT+ community,” she tweeted.
The development of legislation to ban all forms of conversion therapy in the UK was announced last October by Liz Truss. At the time, Truss said protecting those under the age of 18 was a key priority and promised that future laws will place a strong emphasis on preventing children who undergo practices considered conversion therapy.
Mr Freer replied: ‘I hosted the first Westminster Hall debate on this in 2015 and I have to tell (him) if it was easy governments would have done it before so I took the time to analyze the results.
“We’ve had a meaningful response, it’s important we get it right, and that’s why we’re analyzing the meaningful response and introducing legislation later this spring.”
He added: “The government remains committed to bringing the legislation forward. It’s up to business leaders to know when the exact parliamentary slot is advanced, but a bill team has been assembled and we’re moving along.
Conversion therapy is still legal in the UK, but medical and government bodies here, as well as in the US, have expressed concern about conversion therapy.
Conversion camps include individual therapy and group work where people are asked to change their sexual orientation.
The development of legislation to ban all forms of conversion therapy in the UK was announced last October by Miss Truss.
At the time, the minister said protecting those under the age of 18 was a key priority and promised that future laws will place a strong emphasis on preventing children who undergo practices considered conversion therapy.
Miss Truss said: ‘There should be no place for the heinous practice of coercive conversion therapy in our society.
“I want everyone to be able to love whoever they want and be themselves.”