Led by Stonewall, LGBT groups have reportedly reacted with extreme anger to the government announcement that counselling for gender dysphoria will be exempted from the ban on so-called conversion therapy.
Indeed, the organisations are so enraged that they are now apparently boycotting the much hyped first ever global LGBT+ conference, 'Safe To Be Me', scheduled to take place this summer to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first ever London Pride marches.
Planned under government direction by an 82-member LGBT+ Consortium headed by Stonewall, the groups issued a statement deploring the government's U-turn, followed by an open letter – again composed by Stonewall – and saying they were pulling out of the event, unless and until transgender people receive similar protection from attempted conversion therapy. The conference has now been cancelled.
Given that only a few weeks ago the government issued guidance telling all their departments to withdraw from Stonewall's controversial and mis-named 'Diversity scheme', the campaigning group's current role in organising the 'Safe To Be Me' conference may occasion some surprise. Be that as it may, however, Stonewall is now leading the charge to assert LGBT parity and defend 'transgender rights'.
This is both interesting and concerning at several levels. First of all, it will be remembered that in the drive to achieve lesbian and gay 'equality', the central argument allegedly trumping all others, was that people with same-sex attraction are 'born this way'. Any and all forms of discrimination are therefore wrong, the argument runs because genetically such people have no choice. This of course has never been proved, either biologically or genetically, but that is seemingly irrelevant. Same-sex attraction and behaviour has to be accorded the same status as heteronormative attraction and behaviour, the gay lobby says, because gays are made that way.
Yet now, with the campaign for transgender recognition, we have the interesting claim by activists that, 'My gender doesn't match my birth sex, I'm trapped in the wrong body .... I want to be me.' In other words, it's their biology that's wrong – they've been born the wrong way – and what really matters is how they feel. Which, of course, is a complete reversal of the argument.
So, whatever the facts of biology or science – and whether claimed as justification or inconvenient – it would seem that at the end of the day LGBT+ activists simply want to get their own way by promoting and normalising their version of 'truth', whatever at that precise moment it happens to be.
To put it another way, ideology is once again to triumph, with, as ever, the vulnerable and damaged metaphorically being thrown to the lions.
This is unconscionable and exposes all too clearly the vicious and uncaring political agenda underlying the attempt to rebrand British values and enforce so-called 'inclusivity'. At so many levels the merciless crusade to claim and impose transgender rights is wrong. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than with children.
Only a few days ago, for instance, it was reported that the number of children seeking gender transition on the NHS was at an all-time high, with 5,500 children on the waiting list at London's controversial Tavistock and Portman gender clinic. The numbers are increasing all the time, with some cases even including children as young as three.
But – and it's a big but – not only do children, of any age, lack the emotional and intellectual maturity to understand the consequences of such life-changing and irreversible treatments, it is now medically established that many have mental health issues requiring treatment, are autistic, or are victims of abuse, and what they really need is not to change sex, but therapy and support. Equally, there are growing numbers of older people now seeking to de-transition, whose bodies have been irreparably scarred by needless treatment that they thought they needed at the time but later bitterly regretted. In the promotion of ideology, their stories are being suppressed – but by what right are they denied help?
So, the question arises: exactly who are we 'protecting' by the vicious and uncaring demands that all treatment and help be denied? And why are those wanting such help being forcibly denied the right of choice?
Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, has now waded into the fray, urging the Government to ban all conversion therapy, including prayer, on the grounds that it is 'a wrong-hearted notion of care'. He is wrong. To deny those distressed by same-sex attraction the chance of healing by offering them help when sought, is akin to telling a drug addict that their addiction to heroin is a fine and beautiful thing and must be affirmed – and that they're therefore going to be denied methadone.
The Church is called to uphold the truth as set down in the Bible. It is called to do this not in condemnation, but in order that the lost might be saved and find redemption; that they might be healed. This is the gospel of love.
The doctrinal reconfiguration of faith in order to support current societal and cultural trends, promoting behaviours prohibited in the Bible, is a gospel of despair that can only bind people to hell.
Let us be clear, no one should support coercive conversion therapy. But what possible justification can there be for denying help to those who are lost and want the choice?
In its dealings with Stonewall, it is time for both Church and Government to take a long overdue reality check.
Rev Lynda Rose is founder of Voice for Justice UK, a group which works to uphold the moral values of the Bible in society.