In announcing the ban, the government said "one of the complexities is that those who experience gender dysphoria may seek talking therapy. It is vital that legitimate support is not inadvertently impacted."
When the government refers to “talking therapies” it is, in effect, referring to prayer. So its exclusion of trans people from a conversion therapy ban it announced last week can only be interpreted as capitulation to pressure from religious groups who have been working flat-out to retain all “pray-away-the-gay” interventions.
In announcing the ban in response to a petition—”Ensure Trans people are fully protected under any conversion therapy ban” signed by 144,561 people—the government said:
Conversion therapy practices do not work and can cause long-lasting harm. We are committed to banning these abhorrent practices by introducing an offence that protects children and those that are unwillingly subjected to talking conversion practices, as well as by strengthening provisions against physical conversion practices.
We will bring forward a ban that protects everyone from attempts to change their sexual orientation. There are different considerations when it comes to transgender conversion therapy and the Government remains committed to exploring these. One of the complexities is that those who experience gender dysphoria may seek talking therapy. It is vital that legitimate support is not inadvertently impacted.
This is simply not good enough because it leaves the gate wide open to mainly religious groups, who detest trans people even more than homosexuals, to interfere in the lives of those who identify as trans.
In response to the Conversion Therapy Bill contained in the Queen’s Speech in parliament delivered by Prince Charles, the Christian Institute said:
The Government has said it does not intend for its plans to outlaw ordinary religious practice, such as prayer, preaching and pastoral conversations, infuriating LGBT activists seeking a form of LGBT blasphemy law.
The Christian Institute has launched the Let Us Pray campaign to protect the rights of churches to continue preaching biblical sexual ethics, and of Christians to pray with their gay friends.
The announcement that the ban will not cover gender identity has been met with criticism from some MPs and charities, according to the BBC.
The Rainbow Project said any ban that did not include transgender people was “not a real ban.”
Labour MP Nadia Whittome said it was “still not good enough”, before adding:
LGB comes with the T, and the Tories are not on our side.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Jayne Ozanne, above, a conversion therapy survivor and chair of the #BanConversionTherapy coalition, accused Boris Johnson of throwing LGBTQ people under a bus, adding it was “utterly ludicrous” that transgender people were not included in the ban.
Some gender-critical groups had fought for the ban not to include conversion therapy experienced by transgender people.
Nikki da Costa, a former director of legislative affairs at No 10, said elements of the legislation, particularly relating to gender identity for under 18s and talking therapy, would have had “
Profound consequences for children struggling with gender dysphoria.
Jane Fae, who chairs Trans Media Watch (TMW), told the BBC that she was “gutted, not surprised, and very very worried about the community”.
She said that conversion therapy was widely used within the transgender community, adding:
It’s not about therapy, it is not even about talking, it is about mistreatment, abuse and in some cases torture.
TMW states that many trans and intersex people are so used to being insulted or misrepresented that they don’t bother to complain and points out that it uses the experience of ordinary trans and intersex people who have had bad experiences with the media to help work towards change.
The “Let us Pray” site says:
The Government says it’s going to ban it, but hasn’t really said what ‘it’ is. ‘Conversion therapy’ is a wide umbrella term chosen by LGBT campaigners. It covers grotesque illegal assaults such as ‘corrective rape’ and abusive quack medical practices like electric shock ‘therapy’. But the campaigners want to go much further.
They want to stop people advocating biblical sexual ethics. A conversion therapy ban could hand them a veto on the ordinary work of churches. Things like preaching, pastoral care and prayer. Parenting could also be caught. It shouldn’t be illegal for Christians to teach their faith, or for people to pray for their friends.
“Let us pray” then shoots itself in the foot by providing numerous links to articles that point out how dangerous conversion therapy really is.
As much as I’m pleased that public opinion has finally forced the government to act, I’m disgusted that it has not had the courage to follow through with much-needed protections for trans people.