Ministers commit to banning gay conversion therapy after advisers quit

Three members of government LGBT+ advisory panel have quit, citing a "lack of engagement" and "hostility" towards LGBT+ people
Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

By Alain Tolhurst

15 Mar 2021

The prime minister said ending conversion therapy is "technically complex" but insisted he was committed to "stamp it out" after three government equalities advisers resigned over a lack of action.

Equalities minister Liz Truss said she will announce a full ban on the practise “shortly”, after fears ministers were planning to stop short of outlawing it entirely.

It comes after Jayne Ozanne revealed on Wednesday she was quitting the government's LGBT+ advisory panel, accusing it of creating a “hostile environment”.

She said she had been “astonished” at the “ignorance” of Truss and her fellow equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, who she said were “known among the community as the ministers for inequality”.

Following her resignation, two further advisers also stood down. James Morton accused ministers of a "lack of engagement" with the panel, and Ellen Murray said she decided to leave "due to the government's persistent and worsening hostility towards our community in myriad areas".

During a visit to Northern Ireland today, Boris Johnson was asked about their decision, and told reporters: "I think this practice is repulsive and I think it's abhorrent, and I'm sorry these advisers have gone, but be in no doubt that we will deal with this issue.

"It is technically complex to deal with but we're determined to take further steps to stamp it out.”

At the same time Truss spoke on a trip to Scotland, saying the government was “very committed to LGBT equality”.

“We’ve recently brought forward plans to improve healthcare for transgender people.

“And we'll shortly be bringing forward plans to ban conversion therapy, which is an abhorrent practice.”

Asked if she would completely outlaw the practice, she said: "We are committed to that and we'll shortly be bringing forward plans to do so."

Campaigners have criticised the government for failing to act after then-PM Theresa May promised to end conversion therapy in 2018, a pledge reiterated by her successor in No.10 last year.

In response, Tory MP Alicia Kearns tweeted: “This is so utterly important and I’m very pleased to see Liz Truss recommit to #BanConversionTherapy - we will deliver this life-saving ban.”

Labour MP Angela Eagle posted: “If true then about time! I’ll believe it when I see it - we want actions from this government on this issue now not warm words.”

Alain Tolhurst is chief reporter at CSW's sister title PoliticsHome, where this article first appeared.

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