Conversion therapy ban reportedly dropped from King's Speech

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Proposals to ban so-called conversion therapy will not be included in the King's Speech on Tuesday, according to reports. 

If this is the case, it is unlikely that a ban would be introduced until after the next general election. 

There was no mention of the proposals in an announcement from Downing Street on Friday outlining the contents of the King's Speech.

The Daily Mail quoted Whitehall sources as saying that ministers will instead promise to bring forward draft legislation for consultation. 

One source told the newspaper that ministers are still trying to figure out how to ensure the ban does not encroach on fundamental freedoms. 

"Ministers still don't really have answers on what exactly needs to be made illegal that is not already illegal, and how you do that without trampling on the rights of parents, teachers and others to talk to children about their situation," the source said. 

Another told the newspaper: "Realistically, there is no chance of it becoming law this side of an election."

Several Christian groups have expressed serious concerns about the proposals and the potential to criminalise ordinary Christian practices like prayer, preaching and pastoral counselling. 

Evangelical church network Affinity has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging the government to abandon the proposed ban.

Affinity director, Graham Nicholls, said that it would be "discriminatory" and threaten the religious freedom of Christians, as well as the freedom of individuals to seek prayer and pastoral support about their sexual orientation and desires.

"We believe any such legislation, however well intentioned, would criminalise most ordinary Christians and church leaders for expressing mainstream, orthodox beliefs," he said. 

"Therefore on behalf of our members, we would urge you to stand firm against this unreasonable curtailment of our freedom of thought and religion."

The Association of Christian Teachers has warned in a separate letter that families, children and teachers risk being caught out by the law if a broad definition is adopted. 

In her letter, ACT executive officer Lizzie Harewood called for "urgent reconsideration of whether there is a need for new legislation" as abusive and coercive methods are already illegal under current law. 

"Our concern is that any legislation in this highly controversial space may inadvertently harm children and potentially criminalise teachers. ACT calls for an urgent reconsideration of whether there is a need for new legislation," she said.

"This proposed ban seems driven by lobby groups seeking to enforce their particular social and political perspectives, discriminating against families, children and teachers with differing views.

"Our members have no desire to become criminals, and as a Christian organisation, we place a high value on being law-abiding citizens. It is extraordinary that we find ourselves in a position where this could be jeopardised by the Government giving in to activists who are openly hostile to us because of our beliefs."