Conservative MP raises ban on conversion therapy with equalities minister

A Conservative MP has asked the equalities minister whether she understands the “anxiety” the LGBT community feels when it comes to the ban on conversion therapy.

Peter Gibson, the MP for Darlington, told the Commons “we are still to see any draft legislation”, despite the ban appearing in “multiple Queen’s speeches”.

Kemi Badenoch said “the reason why it is taking so long is because this is not as simple as members opposite would like it to be”.

Mr Gibson asked: “Does (she) understand the anxiety by the LGBT community when it comes to this ban? This ban has appeared in multiple Queen’s speeches, yet we are still to see any draft legislation.”

Ms Badenoch replied: “I do understand the anxiety and one of the things that I’m trying to do is take a lot of the heat out of the debate”, adding: “This is something that I am committed to doing.

Peter Gibson MP
Peter Gibson MP (UK Parliament/PA)

“He is right that we have raised it multiple times and have promised it multiple times but the reason why it is taking so long is because this is not as simple as members opposite would like it to be. This is a very, very complex area and when we do it, we’re going to do it right and permanently.”

Issues concerning conversion therapy can be tackled with existing law, the women and equalities minister added.

Ms Badenoch’s comments came after Labour MP Dame Nia Griffith (Llanelli) told the Commons: “Every day the Secretary of State delays this bill, LGBT individuals can be subjected to this apparent and deeply damaging conversion therapy and it’s now eight months since the consultation closed and four years since the Government first promised a ban.

Dame Nia Griffith
Dame Nia Griffith (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“So, I beg the Secretary of State to bring forward a bill as soon as possible. Now, can she also reassure us that the Government’s proposed legislation will bring in a comprehensive ban on all forms of conversion therapy and include the protection of trans people?”

Ms Badenoch said “this is a very serious issue”, before adding: “Many of the things that people asked for when we first started talking about conversion therapy practices have widened and are different from what we’re looking at now. So, it’s widened in scope.

“But more importantly, what I would like to reassure LGBT people on is that these are issues that we can tackle with existing law. So, we are being very careful in terms of our considerations of what will be coming into the Bill and the answer which she is requesting will follow on from the consultation and that will come in due course.”

Shadow secretary of state for women and equalities Anneliese Dodds argued there had been “no advice from the Foreign Office, nor the Government equalities office for LGBT+ fans” over the World Cup.

She said: “Qatar’s record on LGBT+ rights, women’s rights and the treatment of migrant workers mean it should never have been awarded the World Cup.

“While Fifa’s capitulation over the One Love arm band has been shameful, the least our LGBT+ fans could expect from our government is advice and support when travelling to matches. Yet there is no advice from the Foreign Office, nor the Government equalities office for LGBT+ fans.”

FCDO minister David Rutley replied: “Qatar has repeatedly committed that everybody is welcome to the tournament and as colleagues are aware the sports and equalities minister (MP for Pudsey Stuart Andrew) is in Qatar, and I fully respect the decision he’s taken to wear the One Love armband.”