UK to include trans people in conversion therapy ban
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The UK government on Tuesday promised to include transgender people in draft legislation banning so-called "conversion therapy" aimed at changing sexual orientation or identity.
The move, welcomed by gay lawmakers and LGBTQ groups, comes after the government has long stalled on passing such legislation and sought to exclude transgender people.
Culture minister Michelle Donelan said a draft bill on banning conversion therapy in England and Wales will be published soon, without specifying a date.
It "will protect everyone, including those targeted on the basis of their sexuality, or being transgender", she added.
But she added the proviso that legislation should not prevent "parents or clinicians" having "legitimate conversations" about "gender-related distress" among children or young adults.
The announcement came as the UK government is using its powers to block a bill passed in the Scottish parliament to make it easier for people to self-identify as transgender.
Some commentators suggested the announcement was an attempt to deflect attention.
Conversion therapy is an umbrella term for interventions to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, based on a belief this is possible.
There have long been calls to ban the practice, outlawed by the UK's main associations of psychologists and psychiatrists in 2015 as "unethical and potentially harmful".
Activists welcomed the government announcement while saying it was long overdue.
"We have faced almost five years of delays and broken promises. The UK Gov must publish the Bill and an imminent timetable ASAP," commented Stonewall, a pressure group.
A bill presented by the UK government in 2021 proposed a jail term of up to five years for those who carry out conversion therapies on minors, but did not penalise adults deemed to have freely consented.
In March last year, the government said it had dropped plans for a ban, before swiftly reversing course and promising to implement a version of the draft law.
In May the government said it would bring forward a ban, responding to an online petition specifically about inclusion of transgender people.
But it said there were "different considerations when it comes to transgender conversion therapy".
"One of the complexities is that those who experience gender dysphoria may seek talking therapy. It is vital that legitimate support is not inadvertently impacted," the government said.
Conversion therapy has been widely discredited and outlawed by a number of countries.