Government says it will ban conversion therapy but not for transgender people

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The government has said it plans to ban so-called conversion therapy for gay and bisexual people across England and Wales, but not for transgender people.

The clarification came after a report suggesting that the government was going to ditch the ban altogether.

According to the BBC, a senior government source has now clarified that the ban will be included in the Queen's Speech next week. 

The Ozanne Foundation, founded by Anglican LGBT campaigner and conversion therapy ban supporter, Jayne Ozanne, said on Twitter, "It's ridiculous that 10 Downing Street isn't protecting trans people from the horrors of conversion therapy given that they are twice as likely to be offered it and put through it."

Nikki da Costa, a former director of Legislative Affairs at No 10, took a different view in comments to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday. 

"Doctors, therapists and parents would be deterred from exploring with a child any feelings of what else may be going on for fear of being told they're trying to change a child's identity," she said. 

The Christian Institute's Simon Calvert said the U-turn was disappointing. 

"The leaked government document confirms that there isn't any evidence basis for a ban," he said.

"They haven't identified any gap in the law that needs to be filled. Abuse is already illegal. So what will a 'conversion therapy' ban cover? If you are going to criminalise something you need to be able to say what it is.

"We know what Jayne Ozanne would like to ban. She took the trouble to explicitly state that she wants 'gentle, non-coercive prayer' to be covered.

"The Government knows you can't do this. At least, not without breaching the European Convention on Human Rights.

"That's why it's so disappointing that, having come to a sensible, considered conclusion to drop the ban, they've now caved in to people who see this law as a way of punishing evangelicals for their beliefs about sexuality."

Responding to the U-turn, Dr Mike Davidson, Chairman of the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice, said the problem remained that the debate has been one-sided.

He said that the government should "speak directly" to groups that are opposed to the ban "with the intention of understanding our opposition, and listening to how therapeutic choice in this area might be regulated and understood as a different viewpoint". 

Dr Davidson said the lack of consideration for alternative viewpoints had been "damaging to scientific understanding of this area". 

"At the moment, the UK suffers from only one viewpoint being favoured and promoted by mental health professional bodies," he said.

"Beginning with David Cameron, and certainly under Teresa May and continued by Boris Johnson, dissenting viewpoints have been rejected as unscientific without debate.

"The fact is, the scientific community is split. So when only one ideological viewpoint is promoted, and opposing ideological viewpoints are disallowed, there can be no checks and balances."

He continued, "I hope the government will begin to see how the politicisation of sexuality is set to tear the country apart and that its ban will do far more damage than the good it claims to be aiming to achieve."

He added, "We call on professionals, both clinical and pastoral to stand against the government's plans to ban therapeutic choice."