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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Gary Sambrook Portrait Gary Sambrook (Birmingham, Northfield) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray.

Conversion therapy, in many ways, is a manipulation. It is a manipulation of emotions; it is a manipulation of the coming-out process; and it is a manipulation of people finding themselves and understanding themselves over many years. I came out when I was 22, nine years after I probably realised that I was slightly different from the rest of the lads at school. People go through emotional turmoil when they are going through that process. Even when I started school—I am only 31—it still was not legal to adopt, and marriage was a distant, far-away thought. Until recently, the NHS still did not want my blood.

We go through this process, and it is incredibly difficult for people to process it, because we put ourselves under so much strain and pressure. For me and so many other people, the emotions that we feel—the emotions that are being manipulated by this conversion therapy—are emotions of shame, of not belonging, and of being selfish. These are the things we put ourselves through. We talk ourselves down and we end up convincing ourselves that we are doing wrong—that we are deliberately trying to behave differently from other people. The reason it took me so long to come out of the closet is that I did not want to tell my mum that she would not be a granny, because I am an only child. We put ourselves through this for years and years. I was very lucky, because I plodded on and managed to get through that very difficult period in my life, but so many other people can have those emotions manipulated. By allowing these conversion therapies to continue, we are opening the door for this sort of practice to continue.

I talk about gay and lesbian people, because I am gay, but I also fully support many of the contributions today that have said that this conversion therapy also needs to end for trans people; I am 100% behind that battle too. I want to send a message to the Government that it has been three years since this promise to ban conversion therapy. We have got to get on with it and make sure that we deliver on it, because every day is a delay; another day in which somebody else has their emotions manipulated; another day in which someone else’s life could be ruined forever by going through these highly traumatic experiences.

That could be any one of a number of us. Looking through these stories, we can see similarities in what we read. We can point them out and think, “This was me at one point during my life” or, “This was a friend of mine at some point during their life.” I look at the apology that was given last year by the University of Birmingham, where electric shock treatment was given to gay people in the 1970s, and think, “That could have been me.”

We owe it to all those people to make sure that we ban conversion therapy as soon as possible, because if we allow that door to be open for much longer, I fear the consequences for so many young people—and not necessarily just young people; it could be middle-aged people; people who are later on in their life who find themselves hiding things and make daily lies a normal thing, as I did, to try to cover their tracks. This sort of stuff puts people through enormous emotional turmoil, which is why it is so important that we ban conversion therapy as soon as possible.

James Gray Portrait James Gray (in the Chair)
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I apologise to the House. I inadvertently missed out the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy).