Speaking in the debate in Parliament on 1st July to mark Pride Month, Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Equalities, called for an end to the abusive and harmful practice of so-called conversion therapy.
Wera Hobhouse said:
“LGBT+ people are being let down by this Government. Three consecutive Conservative Prime Ministers over five years have each promised to ban LGBT+ conversion therapy. But there is still no ban. The Government must stop dragging their feet and introduce an outright ban without further delay."
In her speech, Wera Hobhouse said:
“Pride Month is about celebration, activism and commemoration. It is about recognising the progress that we have made since the Stonewall riots, and continuing the fight for equality alongside our LGBT+ family and friends.
“Along with so many others today, I find myself once more speaking about a specific inequality that should have been dealt with many years ago: the legality of so-called conversion therapy. Conversion therapy by its very definition is designed to rob LGBT+ people of their identity. It is nothing short of medieval. It is not healthcare; it is not ministry; it is abuse, yet it remains legal.
“In the 2015 general election campaign, the former Prime Minister pledged to ban conversion therapy. The Conservative Government backtracked and there was no ban. Then in 2018, the next Prime Minister pledged to ban conversion therapy, but the Government backtracked again and there was no ban. The current Prime Minister, who campaigned on some promises of progress and change, also pledged to ban conversion therapy. The proposal even made it into the Queen’s Speech, but still there is no ban. As far as I am aware, there are no firm plans for a ban. I hope the Minister will be able to correct me on that point.
“LGBT representatives from every major party, including the Conservative party, have called for an immediate ban. They called the Government’s commitments: 'disappointingly weak, vague and unempathetic'. That was from members of their own party. This clearly is not good enough. LGBT+ people are being let down by this Government.
“Last Wednesday, Alan Turing took his rightful place on our £50 note. We easily forget that Turing was forced to receive chemical castration at the hands of the state, all because he was guilty of the crime, as it was then, of loving another man. This chemical castration was meant to suppress his sexual orientation. It was a conversion therapy—one that our Government at the time had made into a legal instrument. We have come a long way since then. Homosexual acts are no longer illegal. Gay marriage is now legal, and I am proud of the Liberal Democrats’ role in making that happen, but as long as conversion therapy is legal, using Turing as a figurehead seems to be some form of big hypocrisy.
In conclusion, Wera said:
“The NHS, international observers, LGBT+ organisations, professional bodies in health and social care, interfaith organisations and senior figures in all major parties are united: we must ban conversion therapy now. As this year’s Pride Month draws to a close, I urge colleagues from all parts of the House, including Government Ministers, to make it an urgent priority.”
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