I take this issue very seriously and I know that my colleagues in the Equalities Office remain committed to tackling conversion therapy in the UK. I am absolutely clear that this practice has no place in civilised society. Being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not an illness to be treated or cured.
I am encouraged that this view is shared by the head of the NHS, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the British Medical Association. Each of these bodies have concluded that such therapy is unethical and potentially harmful.
The Government Equalities’ Office commissioned a large-scale LGBT survey in 2017. Sadly, two per cent of respondents to the national LGBT survey said they had undergone conversion therapy in an attempt to ‘cure’ them of being LGBT. Unfortunately, in this survey, what conversion therapy entailed was not defined, nor were the respondents asked whether or not the conversion therapy referred to in their answer was offered in the UK.
I understand that the Government has now confirmed that transgender conversion therapy will be included in the ban. The Bill will be published shortly, and will protect everyone including those targeted on the basis of their sexuality, or being transgender. I am aware that this is a complex area and legislation must not harm the growing number of children and young adults experiencing gender-related distress, through inadvertently criminalising or chilling legitimate conversations parents or clinicians may have with their children.
I am positive about the steps that have been made so far in the UK to achieve LGBT equality, and am confident that this good work will continue.