In England and Wales, the government says it will outlaw so-called conversion therapy for gay and bisexual people, but not for transgender people. It comes just hours after it announced that the ban would be scrapped entirely.
LGBT groups and MPs slammed the announcement on Thursday evening that ministers would look into non-legislative options to end the practice.
Conversion therapy, according to NHS England, aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. All forms of conversion therapy are “unethical and potentially harmful” according to NHS England and other major psychological bodies in the UK.
The ban will be included in the next Queen’s Speech, according to a senior government source.
Therapy aimed at changing people’s sexuality will be prohibited under the legislation, but practices aimed at changing people’s gender identity will not.
A government spokesperson had just hours before said the ban would be lifted and that they would instead look into ways to stop conversion therapy through existing legislation and other means. However, some MPs and charities have expressed their displeasure with the announcement that the ban will not apply to gender identity.
Any ban that excludes transgender people, according to the Rainbow Project, is “not a real ban” “still not good enough” Labour MP Nadia Whittome said, before adding, “LGB comes with the T, and the Tories are not on our side”
Some feminist organizations lobbied for the ban to exclude conversion therapy as a treatment option for transgender people.
Nikki da Costa, a former director of legislative affairs at No 10, said that parts of the bill, particularly those relating to gender identity for under 18s and talking therapy, would have had “profound consequences for children struggling with gender dysphoria”
The government may view it as too complicated to avoid any unintended consequences of the legislation, which could affect parents, teachers, and therapists who work with children who are struggling with gender identity issues.
The initial announcement that ministers planned to put a ban on hold was met with criticism, with Stonewall, an LGBT advocacy group, calling the news “devastating”
The LGBT+ Conservatives, a group affiliated with the party, said they were “shocked and disappointed” and would write to Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Christian Institute’s deputy director, Simon Calvert, said it was “disappointing” that the government had “sensible” after making the “caved in to people who see this law as a way of punishing evangelicals for their beliefs about sexuality” initial decision to repeal the ban.
He had earlier expressed his delight at the news that the ban would be lifted, claiming that it would violate the European Convention on Human Rights and infringe on religious freedoms.