MPs finally debated banning ‘conversion therapy’ for all LGBTQ+ people after a petition on the issue reached more than 145,000 signatures.

The discussion, which took place on 13 June in Westminster Hall, lasted for around two and a half hours and saw representatives from a number of parties advocate for a full and comprehensive ban of the practice.

Among them was Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North and former Leader of the Labour Party, who compared the current situation to “the grim days of Section 28”.

“The proposal to not include trans people in the ‘conversion therapy’ ban is unbelievably wrong, divisive and short-sighted,” he also told colleagues.

There has been widespread outrage in the UK after the government’s U-turns on a comprehensive ban of the practice, which has now resulted in a watered down version of what was originally promised.

Trans people are not currently expected to be offered any protections by the legislation, with the government stating “different considerations” are needed for this in its response to the aforementioned petition.

Current plans would see adults still able to consent to ‘conversion therapy’, which has been widely condemned by health experts such as the National Health Service and World Health Organisation, with only those under the age of 18 being fully protected.

“This comes back to the issue of consent,” added Conservative MP Elliot Colburn, who is also a member of the Petitions Committee. “Can someone actually consent to having harm done to themselves, even if they have all the facts? For me the answer is no. Again, that comes back to the core point, which is that these are ‘abhorrent practices’ — harmful practices and that cause people to have to undergo years of psychological therapy to try to get over what has been done to them, which is why they need to be banned in law.”

Speaking to GAY TIMES before taking part in the debate, Nadia Whittome, the UK’s youngest MP, explained that a comprehensive ban of ‘conversion therapy’ is something she will continue to advocate for because of the harm it causes LGBTQ+ people.

“‘Conversion therapy’ is really harmful,” the Labour politician added. “It damages people’s mental health, it even drives people to take their own lives. That’s why this debate is so important and I hope that Tory MPs will listen and will put pressure on their government, but ultimately ‘conversion therapy’ is abuse and you cannot consent to your own abuse, so we’ve got to keep fighting this.”

Alicia Kearns, a Tory MP who represents Rutland and Melton, has been unapologetic in her fight to bringing an end to ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK.

During her speech, she passionately expressed her anger at the fact the debate surrounding this issue is still ongoing: “I am furious, but my fury is nothing compared to the deep-set harm that this announcement has already caused to the transgender community, which has been harmed by us saying that trans people do not deserve the same rights and protections as their LGB brothers and sisters.

“Shamefully, the entire ban was almost cancelled; were it not for the actions of Conservative Back Benchers to ensure the ban was protected, it would have been.”

GAY TIMES spoke to Sammantha Harris, the person who launched the petition which led to the debate taking place, shortly after it ended.

“The reason I started the petition was basically frustration,” she explained. “Frustration that trans people were being left behind. The government’s own figures say that this is abhorrent. This is a completely coercive and completely abhorrent practice that has no place in modern society and yet, to say that, and then not include trans people in any legislative ban that outlaws those practices is, in my opinion, a complete failure of morality.”

A commitment to banning ’conversion therapy’ was first made by Theresa May’s administration in 2018 and, although what the exact legislation will look like remains unclear, the debate is a big step towards the UK prohibiting the practice.

You can watch it in full below or by clicking here.