Church leaders write to Badenoch and Sunak, calling on the Government to drop plans to ban conversion therapy that could criminalise Christians

The authors of the Greater Love Declaration have written to Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling on the Westminster Government to drop plans to ban ‘conversion therapy’.


The Declaration affirms Christian teaching on marriage, sex and identity and is signed by well over a thousand church leaders from across denominations throughout the UK.


The letter was a response to last week’s announcement that the Government would go ahead with a ban on conversion therapy for gay and transgender people, despite the serious reservations of the Equalities Minister who wrote to Conservative MPs and Peers, setting out her concerns.


The writing group explained the legislation is “likely to criminalise innocent parents, teachers, and church leaders” and they “urge that this confused proposal be dropped”.


The row follows comments by Jayne Ozanne, a former Government LGBT advisor who said that the Conversion Therapy ban should include “gentle non-coercive prayer”.


“All prayer that seeks to change or suppress someone’s innate sexuality or gender identity is deeply damaging and causes immeasurable harm, as it comes from a place – no matter how well meaning – that says who you are is unacceptable and wrong.”


Ms Ozanne went on to claim that conversion therapy happens in the Church of England and in “many other faith settings”.


Her comments were seen as the clearest sign that the activistswho are pushing a ban are really trying to target the work of faith leaders by lobbying for a Conversion Therapy law that would criminalise prayer and other mainstream religious activities.


Co-author of the letter, Revd Dr Matthew Roberts commented: “We have every sympathy for those who have suffered genuine abuse. Christians firmly reject any attempt to coerce or abuse, as it defies Christian teaching at the most basic level. We are grateful that this is already illegal.


“Instead, many of those demanding this legislation are pushing a narrative that traditional orthodox Christian beliefs are harmful. They have made clear they are unwilling to accept a new law which does not criminalise ordinary believers and Christian leaders.


“More than three thousand Christians in the UK have signed the Greater Love Declaration. Of these, well over a thousand are in recognised ministry positions. They have committed to continuing to teach Christian sexual ethics, even if it becomes illegal to do so.


“The Declaration sets out the foundational Christian teaching that we are to lay down our own desires in self-sacrifice for others. That is the ‘greater love’ to which Christ calls us. This is the basis of all Christian ethics, and foundational to the Christian view of marriage. It is a profoundly good teaching that benefits all, yet many are now calling for such orthodox views to be criminalised.”


“The Government has said that it wants to protect religious freedom. That is a very welcome aim. But we remain unconvinced that the Government can avoid unintended consequences in the passage of this Bill.


Alistair Thompson

Alistair Thompson is the Director of Team Britannia PR and a journalist.