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Mermaids Press

CW: conversion practice, conversion therapy, homophobia, transphobia 

So-called, “conversion therapy” is an abhorrent practice which seeks to change, “cure” or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which is currently still legal. 

The Government has today launched a long-awaited public consultation on how that ban should work. 

Upon its launch, Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss MP, said:“As we build back better from the pandemic, I want everyone to be able to love who they want and be themselves. Today’s announcement sets out how we will ban an archaic practice that has no place in modern life.”

The Ministerial Foreward includes some concerning framing around trans people specifically, but the consultation proposals itself makes it clear that trans people will be protected, including more robust measures for under 18s. 

Unsurprisingly, some media outlets are skewing the proposals, but we urge people to look at the substance of these, which is clear that trans healthcare is not conversion therapy, and that trans people are included in the proposed protections, with the Government stating that “conversion therapy is an issue that overwhelmingly affects LGBT people”. 

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. 

Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids (she/her) said: Conversion therapy affects the whole LGBTQIA+ community, with evidence suggesting that transgender people are more likely to be impacted by this deeply concerning practice. It’s vital that the Government brings in a comprehensive legal ban, which protects the whole of the LGBTQIA+ community, children and adults alike.”

The consultation will be open for six weeks with a deadline of 10 December 2021. We will be offering our support throughout this period and will be providing guidance to help people draft a response, as soon as possible. 

Do you need support?

If you are a survivor or are impacted by this conversation, you can reach out to the National Conversion therapy helpline on 0800 130 3335 (Open 10:00-16:00, Monday to Friday ) or email [email protected]

Mermaids’ helpline no 0808 801 0400. 

While we are not trained experts in supporting survivors of conversion therapies and practices, we know the importance of talking to someone who will meet where you are in your journey, with empathy and affirmation, with no second-guessing of your experiences. We will always endeavour to listen and will try to signpost individuals to other support organisations where possible.

You can find other sources of support via our website: www.mermaidsuk.org.uk/ban-conversiontherapy 

Notes to editors:

Mermaids’ Press Office on [email protected] 

  • Mermaids has been working to empower trans people for over 25 years. We provide emotional support to trans, non-binary and gender diverse children, young people and their families via our helpline, web chat, local groups and more. 
  • Conversion therapy is any practice which attempts to supress, cure or change someone’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It can take many forms, including psychiatric, psychological, religious, and cultural interventions, and is extremely harmful to those who experience it, often causing lifelong mental health challenges. 
  • 28 March 2021 marked one thousand days since the UK Government announced a commitment to end “the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy” as part of their LGBT Action Plan in 2018.
  • Figures from the National LGBT Survey found that 7 per cent of LGBT+ people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy, with trans respondents almost twice as likely to have been offered or undergone conversion therapy (13 per cent). Figures also found asexual people to be at a higher risk of being offered or undergoing conversion therapy (10 per cent).