LGBT Conversion Therapy Debate

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Department: HM Treasury
Monday 8th March 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Mike Hill Portrait Mike Hill (Hartlepool) (Lab) [V]
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I thank my colleague the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Elliot Colburn) for his wonderful introduction to the debate. I have been contacted by many of my constituents about the petition, each of them as shocked as I am that the Government have still not acted to outlaw the practice of so-called conversion therapy inflicted on LGBT people.

The petitioners’ aims are not difficult to enact, nor are they asking too much. Their requests are clear and simple: they simply want LGBT people to live in dignity without having their sexuality or gender identity questioned. Every human being should have the right to express their own identity without the judgment of others. It is clear from the evidence surrounding this practice, compiled by the charity Stonewall, that that is not the case for everyone who identifies as LGBT in the UK. According to Stonewall’s figures, one in 20 LGBT people living in the UK has at some time been subject to or recommended for therapies that question their very identity. That number rises to almost one in 10 among young LGBT adults aged between 18 and 24 and almost one in five for trans people.

In a modern, supposedly decent society, that should not even be an option, and it certainly should not be legal. Many of the people subjected to such practices have them forced upon them by their families. In some cases, LGBT people are sent abroad for treatment by relatives who believe it will somehow cure them, when there is nothing—absolutely nothing—to be cured. The only result is severe distress and untold psychological trauma.

Every recognised medical and professional body in the UK has described the practice as dangerous. Many other public bodies have signed a common pledge against the practice. However, substantial evidence still shows that too many people continue to believe, despite the evidence, that sexuality and gender identity can be cured in some way. Enacting legislation to end these so-called therapies and ensure that no practitioner in the UK can consider them an option to which they can refer a patient would contribute greatly to preventing people from persisting in that belief.

I appreciate that the Government have previously made supportive statements on the issue. The Prime Minister himself described it as “abhorrent”, and as something that

“has no place in a civilised society”.

He made that statement last summer, but nine months on there has been no movement. There is clearly cross-party consensus in favour of legislating to outlaw this practice. Every day that the Government delay legislation, another LGBT person could be subject to this continued abuse. We have the power to act and the support to pass the legislation. All we need is the legislation to put our words into action. We can prevent further damage to the lives of LGBT people in this country, but only if we act quickly.

James Gray Portrait James Gray (in the Chair)
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Physically speaking and back from her maternity leave, we have Alicia Kearns.