Queen Elizabeth II in her annual address to the House of Lords announced that the United Kingdom government will ban “conversion therapy” that is aimed at LGBTQ+ people.
Conversion therapy is a wide range of efforts to change one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. It is an outdated practice that started in the 19th century when sexualities that diverged from heterosexual and cisgender were pathologized. Even though the World Health Organization has discredited such practices, forms of conversion therapy persist throughout the world, and the UK was one of the countries that were still implementing it.
However, that is up for change now. The Queen said in her speech that measures “will be brought forward to address racial and ethnic disparities and ban conversion therapy.” The government, though, will not offer legislation right away. According to a government briefing document that accompanied the speech, the approach “will ensure medical professionals, religious leaders, teachers, and parents can continue to be able to have open and honest conversations with people.”
BREAKING 📢 Fantastic news – but in order to effectively #BanConversionTherapy any Bill must cover sexuality & gender ID, adults & children, conversion practices in all settings including faith, and have statutory support for survivors and victims. https://t.co/aX8J5a8Rrt
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) May 10, 2021
In a national survey in Britain, in which more than 108,000 LGBTQ+ people participated, 2 percent of the respondents said that they had participated in conversion therapy and 5 percent admitted that conversion therapy was offered to them at some point in their lives.
Boris Johnson had already made steps towards this development, by banning advertising conversion therapy when he was the mayor of London. He also added that conversion therapy “has no place in a civilized society” and that the government would forbid it. However, after that, no other action was taken.
"I never saw LGBTQ+ people represented while I was at school. That invisibility left me vulnerable and made it impossible for me to see a future." – Maya, a survivor of conversion therapy. Read her story, and help #BanConversionTherapy.https://t.co/Iakm31heus
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) May 13, 2021
Moreover, the British LGBTQ+ rights organization Stonewall, which is part of the coalition for a ban announced: “The UK Government must publish a full and comprehensive Bill that bans conversion practices in all forms, for all people and in all settings, including religious and faith-based settings, and that provides statutory support for victims and survivors.”
On a positive note, the Queen’s announcement about UK’s position brings the country closer to the few countries in the world that have banned conversion therapy.
Watch the Queen’s speech on YouTube
Words by: Vasiliki Roussou