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The British government must ban conversion therapy as it promised

It’s been over 1,000 days since the government announced it would ban the cruel practice – and new statistics on conversion therapy's prominence highlight it’s an urgent matter

LGBTQ+ rights organisation Stonewall has launched a campaign urging the UK government to ban conversion therapy.

The call for action comes 1,000 days after the government announced it would be banning the practice, which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Despite being condemned by all major UK health services, conversion therapy is still happening in the UK. A recent report by the National LGBT Survey found that seven per cent of LGBTQ+ people have been offered or have undergone conversion therapy, with trans people almost twice as likely to have been offered or undergone the practice at 13 per cent.

“For a lot of people who might be disconnected from the harm of conversion therapy, it can be a very abstract concept,” Matthew Hyndman, co-founder of the Ban Conversion Therapy Campaign tells Dazed.

Hyndman set up the organisation after being told he must go to conversion therapy when working as a missionary six years ago. “People usually think of conversion therapy as a thing of the past, without a full legal ban, it can – and still does – happen to LGBTQ+ people today across the UK,” he says.

“Being LGBTQ+ is not shameful, and we don’t need to be cured or change who we are. But experiences like mine are still happening today, and while I escaped it, others aren’t always so lucky,” he adds. ”LGBTQ+ people who do go through this harmful practice often experience long term mental health impacts, which is why we’re also campaigning for specific support for victims and survivors of conversion therapy.”

Last year, Justin Beck, a survivor of gay conversion therapy, told Dazed that the practice “relies on this negative, toxic mentality of eradicating your self-worth and manipulating you against all of your own natural instincts”. 

As well as highlighting the need for a ban, LGBTQ+ organisations and faith communities are also campaigning for specialist support for victims and survivors of conversion therapy.

“Conversion therapy affects the whole LGBTQ+ community, with transgender people being more likely to be impacted by this deeply concerning practice,” says Susie Green, CEO of British charity Mermaids. “It’s vital that government brings in a comprehensive legal ban, which protects the whole of the LGBTQ+ community, children and adults alike.”

Find out more about the campaign on Stonewall’s website and email your MP to protect  LGBTQ+ communities from conversion therapy.