Boris Johnson backs down on plans to outlaw conversion therapy

LONDON, (Parliament Politics Magazine) – Boris Johnson has sparked anger by abandoning plans to outlaw the heinous practise of LGBT conversion therapy.

“The PM has agreed we should not move through with legislation,” according to a leaked Downing Street briefing paper viewed by ITV News, to criminalise the practice, which forces people to deny or change their sexuality.

Following a pledge made in 2018, the government declared a ban in last year’s Queen’s Speech.

However, once Equalities Minister Liz Truss launched a new consultation on the ban in October, protesters thought it would be scaled down or postponed.

A spokesman for the government said today that they had opted to look into how existing law could be applied more effectively as well as other non-legislative methods, thereby abandoning the vow.

The decision was slammed as a “green light to torture” and a “utter betrayal” of the LGBT+ community.

It comes only one day after Equalities Minister Mike Freer told MPs that the government was “wholly committed” to legislation and that work was moving forward at a rapid pace.

However, a leaked briefing document revealed that ministers engaged in the legislation’s development, including Liz Truss, were not informed of the decision.

While Liz may not be fundamentally committed to the legislation, she was likely to be apprehensive about taking on the new role and delivering the Bill, it said.

The briefing memo warned that abandoning the proposal would result in a “noisy backlash” from LGBT organisations and certain MPs, and that Mr Freer and Lord Herbert, the Prime Minister’s adviser on LGBT issues, may leave.

It’s possible that the announcement will be made in the Queen’s Speech in the month, in which case it will be framed as a question of “prioritising” the Government’s legislative agenda rather than singling out the LGBT community.

Given the unprecedented circumstances of enormous cost-of-living constraints and the Ukraine war, there was an urgent need to rationalise the legislative programme, it reads.

At a Tory convention in October, Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie praised the PM’s record on LGBT rights, including his promised ban on conversion therapy.

Anneliese Dodds, the Shadow Equalities Secretary, said tonight that ludicrous decision demonstrates that you can’t believe anything Boris Johnson says.

A government that believes conversion therapy is legitimate in the twenty-first century is no friend of the LGBT+ community.

Wera Hobhouse, a Liberal Democrat Equalities spokesperson, called it “an awful betrayal of the LGBT+ community.”

That wasn’t just another U-turn from the Tories; it was approving a type of torture in the United Kingdom, she said.

Conversion therapy should have been outlawed years ago, but the Conservatives are turning a blind eye to this dangerous and abusive treatment, which is a absolute injustice.

He gave (the PM) the benefit of the doubt expecting he would keep his word and deliver the one thing they promised for the LGBT community, Jayne Ozanne, who left the Government’s LGBT advisory body last year, told ITV.

How on earth were they supposed to trust those in power when they broke every promise they made and didn’t seem to understand the suffering that so many people were facing right then in Britain, she continued.

The news was condemned by Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, as a very regressive act.

Eleni Kyriakou

Eleni is a journalist and analyst at Parliament Magazine focusing on European News and current affairs. She worked as Press and Communication Office – Greek Embassy in Lisbon and Quattro Books Publications, Canada. She is Multilingual with a good grip of cultures, eye in detail, communicative, effective. She holds Master in degree from York University.