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Mermaids’ Head of Policy & Research Kai O’Doherty attended a debate on trans-inclusion in a ban on conversion practices this week. Missed it? Here’s what happened – and what might happen next. 

What happened?

Yesterday (13 June 2022), MPs filled Westminster Hall to debate a public-backed petition calling for the UK Government to reverse its decision to exclude trans and non-binary people from a ban on conversion practices. 

It’s been a long road to get to where we are now, with many twists and turns, which you can read about here.

After witnessing previous Parliament debates which have descended into scare-mongering transphobia (most recently the Non-Binary Legal Recognition debate on 23 May), many of us were understandably nervous about what we’d hear. 

Instead, what we saw was an overwhelming outpouring of support for trans and non-binary people – for our inclusion in this proposed legislation, but also for protecting our rights and needs more broadly.

What did they say?

With over 20 speeches and even more interventions, all but two MPs gave their support for a trans-inclusive ban. They raised compelling points, including that:

Trans people are more at risk: Trans people are twice as likely to be subjected to or offered conversion practices than their cis counterparts;

Medical experts agree: Over 25 health, counselling and psychotherapy professional organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing with the need for a trans-inclusive ban;

Other countries are leading the way: with nearly every other country banning conversion practices covering all LGBTQIA+ people – including Canada, France and New Zealand.

This impacts real people, in seriously harmful ways, every day: with MPs referencing specific stories from Galop (the anti-LGBT+ violence charity) and MPs’ own constituents.

No LGB without the T: MPs raised the need for LGBT people to continue to stand together, and any ban failing to cover trans people will still leave LGB people open to the same abuse under the guise of ‘trans conversion therapy’.

What happens now?

The Equalities Minister, Mike Freer MP, closed the debate expressing his disappointment that his own government “have not brought forward a fully inclusive Bill” and strongly suggesting MPs move for an amendment when the Bill is tabled – which he suggests could be as early as September or October. 

Alicia Kearns MP, a Conservative backbencher who has long championed the ban, committed to tabling such an amendment, with almost all MPs present (and many more beyond that room) committing to support such an amendment.

While we await the Bill’s publication, we will continue to meet with MPs to urge them to support a future amendment to make any ban on conversion practices inclusive of trans and non-binary people, through sharing evidence-based briefings and face-to-face meetings – and we encourage you to continue to email your MP to do the same!