What’s in the consultation?
- It’s the Government’s proposals to ban conversion therapy in England and Wales
- Deadline to respond is Friday 10 December
- Filling the consultation response out with written answers should take about 30-40 minutes (depending on how much you write!)
The question set-up:
- 10 multiple-choice questions about your details based off the questions in the Census (age, region, race, religion etc)
- 2 questions asking whether you have been offered or experienced conversion therapy.
- If you have experienced conversion therapy, 5 multiple-choice questions about that experience.
- The Government’s 14 questions about its proposals – all with multiple-choice answers and 9 with open answer boxes for you to write in your views and feedback.
- 2 required consultation on Government policy questions about economic and equalities impacts
- A confidentiality question on whether you would be happy for your open box answers to be quoted – without your name or details – in the Government’s assessment of the consultation.
- You can just do the multiple-choice answers if you prefer!
Lui Asquith, Director of Legal and Policy at Mermaids (they/them) says: “The Government has made it clear they intend to protect all LGB and T individuals from conversion therapies – this is welcome and right.”
On the framing and use of proposals to suggest it will act to restrict our healthcare and support mechanisms, Lui continues: “…this particular Government’s framing – or the media’s framing – isn’t what goes on statute. What goes on statute is protection for trans people.”
We are concerned that the proposals suggest that those over 18 years old are suggested as being able to “consent” in certain situations, which risks allowing conversion practices to continue in certain scenarios. We must protect every LGBTQIA+ person through this ban, including adults – you cannot consent to this type of abuse, whatever your age.
It’s important that we, the trans and non-binary community, have our voices heard, to help end this abhorrent practice that has brought many LGBTQIA+ people so much harm, for everyone, of all ages. This is a huge moment for the LGBTQIA+ community which has been permitted to suffer at the hands of this practice for too long. To this, we say: no more. No exemptions. No loopholes. No abuse.
Summary of main proposals
- To ban any attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or to change them from or to being transgender.
- Where conversion therapy involves an existing criminal act, the perpetrator would receive a stronger punishment.
- Introduce a new offence for non-violent (“talking”) conversion therapy.
- Would allow for adults to “consent” to conversion therapy if they have agreed “by choice”, and had the “freedom and capacity to make that choice”, which would also consider whether there was coercive or controlling behaviour, and whether the therapy act was motivated by conversion therapy.
- Restricting the promotion and advertising of conversion therapy by working with Ofcom, and through the Online Safety Bill and Online Advertising Programme.
- Protecting people from being taking abroad for the purpose of conversion therapy through the introduction of Conversion Therapy Protection Orders.
- Enable perpetrators to be disqualified from being senior leaders or trustees of a charity, and for charities practicing illegal conversion therapy to be removed from the charity register.
- For there to be longer sentences for those who profited from conversion therapy, and financial compensation available to victims.
- Ensuring statutory services such as the police and CPS know how to support victims and those at risk.
- A new Government-funded support service for victims.
Some helpful points you may want to consider when writing your response
- Conversion therapy overwhelmingly affects LGBTIQA+ people
- Trans people are disproportionately impacted by conversion therapy. The UK Gov’s 2018 National LGBT Survey found trans respondents were more likely to have undergone or been offered conversion therapy (13%) than cis respondents (7%).
- LGBTQ+ people of colour are twice as likely to undergo conversion therapy, trans people are nearly twice as likely to be targeted, and asexual people are also at higher risk.
- People of all ages are impacted by conversion therapy – everyone must be protected
- Religious and faith-based conversion practices constitute the majority of conversion practices in the UK and internationally.
- LGBTQIA+ people who are subjected to conversion therapy are at higher risk of severe mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and risk of suicide attempts.
- The Government should safeguard safe and supportive therapies that assist people to explore and better understand their sexuality and/or gender identity with no pre-determined outcome.
- The proposals have a loophole on adult consent which will leave the majority of adult victims at risk of conversion therapy, and will mean the government’s stated aim of ending this abhorrent practice will fail.
Specific trans related things you may want to consider when writing your response
- Trans people are disproportionately impacted by conversion therapy.
- The UK Gov’s 2018 National LGBT Survey found trans respondents were more likely to have undergone or been offered conversion therapy (13%) than cis respondents (7%).
- It is unclear whether the government considers non-binary people or people with other minority gender identities as being transgender for the purposes of this consultation – you can call for a definition of trans to clearly include non-binary and gender diverse people.
- Trans healthcare is not conversion therapy. Any ambiguity on this could lead to further obstacles to accessing healthcare when we already face unacceptable waiting times for healthcare – you can call for clear protection.
Don’t have long?
- The consultation in full will take approximately 45 minutes – if you don’t have this time remember:
- You can just respond to the multiple choice questions
- Questions 2,3 and 4 are the questions that specifically refer to trans protection and consent:
Question 2: The government considers that delivering talking conversion therapy with the intention of changing a person’s sexual orientation or changing them from being transgender or to being transgender either to someone who is under 18, or to someone who is 18 or over and who has not consented or lacks the capacity to do so should be considered a criminal offence. The consultation document describes proposals to introduce new criminal law that will capture this. How far do you agree or disagree with this?
Question 3: How far do you agree or disagree with the penalties being proposed?
Question 4: Do you think that these proposals miss anything? If yes, can you tell us what you think we have missed?
Our concerns with the government proposals
- The proposals have a consent loophole in that the Government argues that an adult could consent to talking conversion therapy if they gave “informed consent”.
- The current definition does not cover suppressing as well as changing sexual orientation or gender identity.
- It is unclear whether the proposals will protect everyone at risk and could leave worrying gaps for parts of the LGBTQIA+ community.
- The proposals do not clearly set out how conversion therapy in religious settings will be effectively banned.
- The proposals should make clear that gender transition services are not considered a form of conversion therapy.
You can add your concerns to question 5 of the consultation.