Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

An exclusive GAY TIMES survey found an overwhelming amount of support for a total ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK.

‘Conversion therapy’ is typically defined as any attempt at changing a person’s sexuality or gender identity, often involving techniques such as electroshock therapy or prayer.

It has been widely condemned by health experts all over the world, with some comparing it to torture.

Among these are the National Health Service, World Health Organisation, World Psychiatric Association and the United Nations.

According to the results, almost 9 in 10 (88%) believe the government should introduce a complete ban of the practice after its consultation reaches its conclusion on 4 February.

Current plans from the Conservative Party suggest that there will be a loophole allowing those over the age of 18 who are not considered “vulnerable” to consent to ‘conversion therapy’.

“The person entering the arrangement must have freely consented and received all the appropriate information about the potential impacts, short and longer term, of such counselling to allow them to do so, otherwise this would amount to an offence,” the UK government’s website states.

Jayne Ozanne, Chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition and an openly gay Evangelical Christian who went through 20 years of the practice, tells GAY TIMES that the results show how “unequivocally united” the LGBTQ+ community is in its “call for the government to take urgent steps to protect us from so-called ‘conversion therapy’.”

She further explains: “What’s more, given that an overwhelming majority of us are in favour of a complete ban with no loopholes for ‘consent’, the government should think very hard before arguing that this horrific abuse should be allowed to continue.

“After all their priority, surely, must be to listen to those of us who are most at risk and to put in place measures that will protect us from harm.”

The GAY TIMES audience was also asked if the country should be doing more to protect the LGBTQ+ community from ‘conversion therapy’, with 97% of respondents stating that this is the case.

According to the UK government’s National LGBT Survey from 2017, 5% of respondents stated they had been offered it at some point in their lives.

This number rose to 8% when it came to transgender individuals, with 4% of these sharing that they had actually undergone the practice.

“I am deeply concerned that the proposals do not go far enough in protecting the LGBTQ+ community from potential harm,” says Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat MP who is ​​believed to be the first UK parliamentarian to come out as pansexual. “In particular, the proposal that enables ‘informed consent’ for adults.”

Speaking to GAY TIMES, she adds: “The government must ban conversion practices in all forms; including a criminal ban on all forms of conversion therapy; including those claiming to be psychiatric, psychological, therapeutic, or consultative; or a religious practice such as a prayer or exorcism; or any other medical, scientific, or cultural activity seeking to suppress or change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Proposals must include protection for trans and intersex people, and any pressure to exclude these groups must be resisted.”

The survey also found that more than 8 in 10 do not believe it should be possible to consent to so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK, despite the current legislation proposed by the government.

Nadia Whittome, a queer Labour MP who is has been the ‘Baby of the House’ since her election at the age of 23 in 2019, says it is “disgraceful that the government is proposing a loophole that will enable this damaging practice to continue.”

“This survey shows the strength of feeling amongst the LGBTQ+ community,” she further tells GAY TIMES. “Conversion therapy should be banned – no caveats.”

After seeing the results of the poll, a spokesperson for the government’s Equality Hub said it is “absolutely committed” to banning the “abhorrent practice”.

They continued: “Anyone using physical or sexual violence as a form of conversion therapy is already breaking the law.

“Our proposals strengthen existing provisions and introduce an offence which together protect under 18s from all forms of conversion therapy. They would also protect any adults unwillingly subjected to this abhorrent practice.”

The government’s consultation on banning conversion therapy runs until 4 February and takes just 30 minutes to fill out, which you can do so by clicking here.

Ban Conversion Therapy have an online guide which is available here and makes the process of responding to the consultation easier.

The GAY TIMES poll ran for 24 hours from the morning of 2 February through to the following day, giving our Instagram audience of more than one million followers the chance to have their say.

Averaging 12,121 responses per question, they were asked the following:

  • Should it be possible to consent to conversion therapy in the UK?
    YES: 16%
    NO: 84%
  • Should the UK be doing more to protect the LGBTQ+ community from conversion therapy?
    YES: 97%
    NO: 3%
  • Should there be a partial or total ban on conversion therapy in the UK?
    TOTAL: 88%
    PARTIAL: 12%