LGBT Conversion Therapy Debate

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Department: HM Treasury
Monday 8th March 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Westminster Hall
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Crispin Blunt Portrait Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con) [V]
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I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Elliot Colburn) on leading the debate so well, and I congratulate his Committee on securing it. I have two key points for the Government. The first is that we must legislate. Deliver the promise to protect in law. Use the work done in the Government Equalities Office before 2019. Use the examples elsewhere, particularly in Spain and the Australian state of Victoria, which have already legislated. Our common law system enables the drafting challenge of defining conversion therapy to be met. There is no need to overcomplicate this issue. The police, prosecutors and jurors will know conversion therapy when they see it. Most critically, the victims will know it too, and they will have been equipped with a defence mechanism.

Such a law is an important step as a declaratory statement, as it is as a legal tool. If someone is LGBT, the law says that the state supports them. It supports how they want to live their life. When victims find themselves under pressure that is improperly applied to convert them to something they are not, they will know that it is against the law and that they can call it out. They can say to the person or people who are the source of this—[Interruption.]

James Gray Portrait James Gray (in the Chair)
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We have lost the sound, Mr Blunt. You are mute.

Crispin Blunt Portrait Crispin Blunt
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My apologies.

The law gives the victims the opportunity to go to the police and, therefore, to have a weapon in their hand against the source of a conversion therapy. The state is on the side of victims’ freedom—the freedom that that individual is trying to take away from them.

The second point I want to make is that such protection must include trans people. They are by far and away the most vulnerable group among the LGBT community. Identity around gender dysphoria is surely a much more challenging thing to meet than a minority sexuality, but all must be protected. The law must include trans people, and not only because they are the group who need it the most. In 2018, it appeared that trans people were on a trajectory to achieve their rights and protections to live their lives as they wished, supported by the Government’s comprehensive LGBT action plan, but all that now seems to have changed. Trans people are a community under siege. Organisations whose principle raison d’être is to attack and challenge the very legitimacy of trans people have come into being, and they appear to trans people to be firmly in the ascendant.

The lived experience of trans people reflects the awful paucity of services for them in the United Kingdom, as graphically illustrated by VICE News in January and November. They also see 250 articles a year attacking them in our newspaper of record, The Times. They see that groups such as the Conservative Women’s Pledge and LGB Alliance, whose purpose seems to be to protect cisgender women from trans women, have the ear of Ministers. They see reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 abandoned, and the principle of gender-neutral legislation was reversed only last week.

Gender is much more complicated than sexuality, and the drafting of the ban on conversion therapy will need to protect those giving informed, regulated and properly peer-reviewed advice to assist those on the path to reconciling their gender dysphoria. If the legislation does not include the protection of trans people, however, it will send to them the unmistakeable message that their Government do not want to protect them, do not value them and, at some level, do not really accept that trans is really a thing. That awful message would inadvertently make the Government themselves party to the practice of conversion therapy.