'Chilling' conversion therapy proposals could criminalise Christian parents
Christians are being urged to participate in a government consultation on a proposed conversion therapy ban amid concerns about the rights of Christian pastors and parents.
The government has launched a public consultation on the plans that will be open for submissions until 10 December.
The consultation document suggests that under-18s cannot consent to so-called 'conversion therapy', a proposal that Christian Concern fears will result in parents being fined or prosecuted if they challenge their child's sexual or gender identity, or advocate biblical morality.
"There are no clues in the government's consultation as to how ordinary Christian parenting will not be under fire from a ban," Christian Concern said.
The government has promised that prayer will not be covered by the ban and that free speech will be protected.
"Talking conversion therapy could not be reasonably understood to include communication such as casual conversations, exchanges of views, private prayer or pure speech acts," it has said.
But Christian Concern questioned "how any legislation can truly safeguard sermons, debates and prayer ministries".
"The government will continue to come under relentless pressure from LGBTQ+ campaign groups which want them to crack down harder on legitimate Christian practices including prayer, support groups and counselling," said Christian Concern CEO Andrea Williams.
Christian Concern raised further concerns about the rights of people to seek help for unwanted same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria.
"The voices, and even existence, of ex-gay people who say they've benefited from support have been brushed aside in the skewed research accompanying the consultation. This must be challenged," said Williams.
Christian Concern is calling on Christians, church leaders and members of the public to urgently respond to the consultation "to ensure that people remain free to live out their Christian faith in the areas of sex and gender".
"These chilling proposals will criminalise Christian parents who refuse to accept that their child is trans and consistently affirm his or her real identity," said Williams.
"It's not loving our neighbour simply to speak up for the freedoms we care most about while allowing the government to criminalise consensual conversations with a counsellor or therapist.
"We will continue to stand against the scare tactics of those who ultimately want to enshrine LGBT ideology in our laws and in the Church."