Lib Dem conference: Motion to ban conversion therapy receives overwhelming support

The party says it wants to see a total ban on conversion therapy in the UK, with no exemptions for religious practices.

On the first day of the Liberal Democrat conference, members voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion to ban conversion therapy.

The party says it wants to see a total ban on conversion therapy in the UK, with no exemptions for religious practices. The motion passed by 368 votes to 44.

A 2017 government survey found that almost 1 in 13 LGBTQ+ people have been offered or had conversion therapy. This rises to 1 in 7 amongst transgender people. Over half of these conversion therapy practices are carried out by faith organisations.

The party also says that it wants to see a criminal ban on referrals, transportations of minors overseas and any advertising for forms of conversion therapy as well as a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of conversion therapy among vulnerable people.

Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett who moved the motion said: “The Liberal Democrats have always led the way on protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people, whether that be protecting LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers from deportation in 2008, extending the rights of same sex couples to marry in 2010, science and not stigma blood donations in 2011, supporting PrEP in 2016 and leading discussions on mental health and suicide preventions in 2019 and we’re here again to ban conversion therapy in 2021.

“But why ban this practice. It’s simple. It is an abhorrent and harmful practice which seeks to suppress or change a sexual orientation and/or gender identity, by inducing or compelling a person to do so because it is against what is considered acceptable in any given society.”

Adrian went on to say that the UN special rapporteur on torture described these practices as torture in a report to the human rights council in 2016.

Adrian added: “The UK government committed in 2018 to ban conversion practices but the dithering attempts have meant that more proactive campaigns and motions are needed to be laid on the table to ensure this practice is removed from our country forever.”

“The UK currently continues to slide down ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) index on LGBTQ rights. Whereby in 2015 at the end of our time in government, we topped the 49 countries in the list, we’re now falling out of the top 10, overtaken by Malta, Scandinavian countries like Finland and Sweden, Portugal, Netherlands Luxembourg, Belgium to name but a few. Even countries like Albania and Germany have already legislated against conversion practices.”

Adrian stressed that conversion therapy has no medical or therapeutic value and said that according to the faith and sexuality survey of 2008, the vast majority of organizations practicing this kind of therapy where from a religious organizational background.

“That may precipitate in some people’s minds that we are anti-religion. That is far from true but the lack of accountability in loopholes in previous equality legislation, especially around religious exemptions has meant that in our mind any new legislation should have no new get out clauses, especially where religion is concerned.”

Basit Mahmood is co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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