UK lawmakers reject ‘conversion therapy’ ban

Houses of Parliament, London

Originally published in CBN News

Lawmakers in the UK have largely voted against a “conversion therapy” ban that would penalise anyone who attempts to help people seeking freedom from unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.

The Conversion Therapy Prohibition (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Bill was scheduled for a second reading on February 9 in the House of Lords. 

The bill would make it a crime for a medical practitioner or any caregiver to provide or offer any “therapy” that seeks to change a person’s perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, even if the conversation is consensual. 

More specifically, it seeks to declare that individuals questioning their gender identity should not be “cured” of their attraction to the same sex or have their sexual identity “fixed.”

“Parents who do not allow their child to cross-dress would also be criminalised for suppressing their child’s gender identity. The same would apply to parents who continue to refer to their children by their birth name or gender,” explained Christian Concern, a UK faith-based legal group. 

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The organisation points out that the proposed law has “no settled definition of ‘conversion therapy'” and would allow the criminality of breaking the law to be “wide open to being stretched in the future”.

During last week’s debate, 29 parliamentarians spoke against the bill while only 15 were in favour. 

Lord Michael Forsyth described the bill as “the most badly drafted, dangerous piece of legislation” he had seen in nearly 40 years in parliament.

He warned that “parents saying to their children ‘you must not take puberty blockers’ – would find themselves on the wrong side of the law.”

While a small number of European countries have passed some sort of legislation condemning the practice, the UK is being criticised for not having done so.

But Lord Robert Winston, Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London, said UK leaders can not legislate a “piece of biology we really don’t understand.”

“It is very, very clear from my own practice in reproductive medicine that actually a number of people who have had transgender procedures – when they are now in post-menopausal stage of life, have deep regrets. So much so that occasionally they become deeply depressed,” he explained. 

Winston added, “Of course most of the time we can see very clearly that there are many couples who are happy with their new gender assignment. But that is not invariable, and we don’t understand that.” 

Former Prime Minister Theresa May first promised legislation banning so-called conversion therapy in 2018 and although proposals have been drawn up to prohibit therapy since then, none have passed.

This current bill is the first that would also ban therapy for trans-identifying people. 

“This could feasibly mean that telling a boy that he is really a boy or a girl that she is really a girl could be a criminal offence,” Christian Concern argues. 

“Under a Labour government, we could be in a society where people’s bodies are being mutilated: women’s breasts getting cut off, men having their genitalia removed. And to question this would be ‘damaging abuse’,” the organisation added in a blog post. 

Meanwhile, the group is calling out the Church of England for not taking a stand against the issue. 

The Church of England formerly voted to oppose so-called conversion therapy, but only in terms of sexuality, not gender.

Additionally, a 2018 church guidance recommended that Affirmation of Baptismal Faith allow a trans-identifying Christian to celebrate their new sexual identity. Essentially, someone who was baptised under their previous gender could be baptised again under a new gender and name, the BBC reports.

“It is a shame that this evil did not get the backlash that the current Prayers of Love and Faith are getting. Although some church ministers and congregations bravely chose to leave the Church of England, there was little effective resistance within the church,” reads a statement from Christian Concern. 

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, is applauding parliamentarians for taking a stand in favor of freedom of speech. 

“It is encouraging to see so many parliamentarians speaking common sense on an extreme bill drafted as ideology rather than reality,” she said. “Abusive or coercive practices in any setting are already illegal. Any conversion therapy bill is an attack on fundamental freedoms. Quite simply, it is not needed.”

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