A coalition of charities urging the British Government to outlaw LGBT+ conversion therapy as it approaches 1000 days since a pledge to outlaw the practice was made.
Charities, mental health practitioners, and faith communities across the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans umbrella are calling on the Government to outlaw treatments to “change” a person’s sexuality or gender identity.
Sunday 28 March will mark 1000 days since Theresa May’s administration promised to ban the practice, after it found 2 per cent of LGBT+ people had undergone conversion therapy to “change” their sexuality or gender identity.
Figures from the National LGBT Survey suggest this figure is higher, estimating 7 per cent of LGBT+ people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy. Trans people almost twice as likely to have been offered or undergone conversion therapy (13 per cent). Asexual people are at a higher risk of being offered or undergoing conversion therapy (10 per cent).
In the same year as the pledge, one undercover gay reporter was told he was “under the control of Satan” at Winner’s Chapel in Dartford. Victims are undergoing the likes of physical torture, surgical interventions and “corrective” rape as part of the “cure.”
Matthew Hyndman, the co-founder campaign group Ban Conversion Therapy, was moments away from receiving conversion therapy six years ago.
The 31-year-old from Northern Ireland was working as a missionary when he told his religious leader that he was gay.
“I was with 400 others, on a ship sailing the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. I was a cheerful guy, managing huge worship events, sometimes leading the singing on stage – but inside I was wrestling with a growing awareness of my sexuality and the knowledge that – as I had been told for as long as I could remember – it would lead to my eternal damnation,” he told ‘i News’ .
“While on the missionary, I confided in him that I was gay. In a cruel turn of events I ended up accidentally attaching our Whatsapp conversation to an email and sending it to 100 members of my congregation, my family and friends.
“The immediate response of the mission leaders was, disappointingly, quite unpleasant. They did not comfort or support me, but instead turned to the business of my ‘sins’ and demanded that I publicly repent and go through counselling.
“Thankfully I found inner certainty in who I was – that I didn’t need to change or ‘cure’ myself – and the courage to say no. But in doing so I had to leave the mission and leave that community and world all behind,” he added.
Leni Morris, CEO of LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop, said the charity supports victims of conversion therapy today.
“In pledging to ban so-called conversion practices, the Government has recognised that there are LGBTQIA+ people in the UK today suffering abuse and violence as a result of others trying to change or suppress who they are,” she said. “The Government must not only recognise these victims, but fund specialist support services to help those in danger in the UK right now to find safety.”
The coalition is encouraging everyone who believes in LGBTQIA+ equality to get involved with their efforts, asking them to email their MP and share the importance of bringing about an effective legal ban to conversion therapy.
As well as highlighting the need for a legislative ban, the group are also campaigning for specialist support for victims and survivors of conversion therapy.
“LGBTQIA+ people don’t need to be ‘cured’ or change who we are, and any intervention claiming to do this is untruthful,, unethical, and preys on those of us who are in most need of support and community.”
Nancy Kelley, chief executive of LGBT+ charity Stonewall added: “Being LGBTQIA+ is beautiful, and there is no place in our society for any so-called ‘interventions’ which tell us otherwise. The UK Government must stop dragging its feet and make good on its promise to bring in a full legal ban, and put a stop to conversion therapy in the UK for good.”
A Government Equalities Office spokesperson said: “Conversion therapy is an abhorrent practice that this Government will take action on to stop. We will outline plans to end conversion therapy practices in due course.”
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