egislation to ban conversion therapy that attempts to change someone’s sexual orientation has been outlined in the Queen’s Speech, following a series of U-turns by the Government.
The conversion therapy Bill will aim to stop “abhorrent practices which do not work and cause extensive harm” and protect people’s freedom to love who they want, the Government said.
But due to the “complexity of issues and need for further careful thought”, the legislation will not protect transgender people.
Reacting to the plans, former LGBT Government adviser Jayne Ozanne said it is an “utter disgrace” for trans people to be “purposefully omitted” from the ban.
It follows multiple changes in position and comes more than three years after the Conservative party pledged to eradicate conversion therapy.
In late March, Boris Johnson dramatically dropped plans for legislation, with a Government spokesman saying it would look at how the existing law could be applied more effectively and explore other measures.
Within hours, a furious backlash forced a hasty retreat and a senior Government source was quoted as saying legislation would be included in the Queen’s Speech.
The Prime Minister is said to have “changed his mind” after seeing the reaction to the earlier announcement.
But he defended the decision not to include trans people, saying there are “complexities and sensitivities” which need to be worked through.
Critics told the Government to stop making “pathetic excuses”, protesters took to the streets, and so many LGBT+ groups pulled out of the Government’s landmark LGBT conference that it had to be cancelled.
In a background briefing note accompanying the Queen’s Speech, the Government said the Bill will apply to England and Wales and have six main elements.
It will ensure that violent conversion therapy can be recognised as an aggravating factor when people are sentenced for existing violent offences, and make non-physical conversion therapy illegal for all minors, regardless of circumstance, and over 18s who do not consent.
Perpetrators found guilty will have any profit they obtained from their crimes seized, and civil measures such as protection orders – which could see passports taken off those in danger of being taken abroad for conversion therapy – will be introduced.
The legislation will protect freedom of speech for parents, clinicians and teachers and recognise clinicians’ independence, the briefing said.
The document adds: “Robust, exploratory and challenging conversations which are part of regulated care do not fall within the scope of the ban.”
Former LGBT Government adviser Ms Ozanne tweeted: “Whilst I’m naturally relieved to see that the Government are still committed to banning “conversion therapy”, it is of great concern that they are creating so many loopholes and leaving so many people unprotected.
“The Government’s own research shows that trans people are twice as likely to be offered ‘conversion therapy’ and it is an utter disgrace that they have purposefully omitted them from the ban.”
She added that the Bill will create a “loophole of consent” which will continue to put “many lives” at risk.