Ban on conversion therapy for gender identity does not prevent ‘challenging conversations’

Ban on conversion therapy for gender identity and sexuality won’t deter parents, teachers or health professionals from ‘challenging conversations’ with young people, ministers say

  • Minister Kemi Badenoch vows legislation will not criminalize therapy talks

The ban on conversion therapy will not affect parents, teachers, religious leaders or health professionals who have “exploratory or even provocative conversations” with young people about gender, Mail On Sunday reports.

Equality Minister Kemi Badenoch has vowed that the long-awaited legislation, expected to be published as early as next week, will not inadvertently criminalize such therapies or discussions or have a ‘chilling’ effect.

Ms Badenoch’s assurance comes after the government announced in January that it would enact a law to ban conversion therapy related to gender identity and sexuality.

This commitment came after Boris Johnson’s government announced a year earlier that it was dropping plans to include transgender people in the bill because of the “complexity” in this area.

Conversion therapy is defined as attempts to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Kemi Badenoch, Minister of Women’s Affairs and Equality, addresses the media during her working visit to Bern, Switzerland

LGBT lobby groups such as Stonewall have campaigned vociferously for both gender identity and sexuality to be covered by the planned ban, arguing that transgender people are one of the groups most at risk of proselytizing in the UK.

But psychologists and other medical practitioners have warned that if this happens, there is a risk that anyone conducting exploratory therapy with young people who are confused about their gender could be criminalized.

They argue that the legislation would make these therapists susceptible to accusations of trying to convert patients by questioning their desire to change gender and would have a “chilling” effect on their approach.

Parent groups and church leaders have also expressed fear that they too could run afoul of this proposed law if they dare to challenge the idea that a child is transgender.

Last night, those opposed to the inclusion of ‘gender identity’ in the ban on conversion therapy welcomed Ms Badenoch’s commitment to protect the right to investigate why an individual might want to switch.

Bob Withers of “Thoughtful Therapists,” a group of psychotherapists who have been vocal critics of the bill, said, “I’m certainly pleased to hear Ms. Badenoch’s promises, although of course we need to see the details of the bill.

“The Tavistock scandal shows what can go sadly wrong when parents, teachers and religious leaders are not allowed to investigate with a young person or even an older person who questions their gender what the possible causes of their discomfort might be.

‘There is a real danger that these people will eventually undergo a medical treatment that they will regret and that is irreversible.

People take part in a protest outside Downing Street in London as transgender people are not included in plans to ban conversion therapy

People take part in a protest outside Downing Street in London as transgender people are not included in plans to ban conversion therapy

‘That is why it is so important that these practices are not criminalized, so that people are not harmed by unnecessary medical treatment.’

Stephanie Davies-Arai, head of Transgender Trend, a parent-led group concerned about the surge in young people identifying as ‘trans’, added: ‘This bill is a good opportunity for the government to parents, teachers really protect. , social workers, clinicians are allowed to have challenging conversations with young people about gender.

“We are pleased to hear that ministers are considering areas where a gender affirmation policy is entrenched and people are afraid to challenge it.”

Maya Forstater, founder of the sex-rights campaign group Sex Matters, was equally positive, but issued a word of caution.

She said: “We welcome the government’s assurance that any legislation would protect parents, therapists and believers, but we are concerned about the chilling effect of criminal legislation.

“We already hear exploratory therapy with children and young people who question their gender and are called ‘conversion’ and doctors who dare not do anything but affirm.”

The ban on conversion therapy was first promised by Theresa May in 2018.

After a series of delays, a draft law is expected to be published soon before it is subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by a joint committee.