The move was condemned as giving a “green light to a form of torture” and an “utter betrayal” of the LGBT+ community
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Boris Johnson has provoked outrage by ditching plans to ban vile LGBT conversion therapy.
A leaked Downing Street briefing paper seen by ITV News said “the PM has agreed we should not move forward with legislation” to outlaw the practice, which forces people to change or deny their sexuality.
The Government announced a ban in last year’s Queen’s Speech, after it was first promised back in 2018.
But campaigners feared the move would be watered down or delayed after Equalities Minister Liz Truss launched a fresh consultation on the ban in October.
A Government spokesman said tonight that they had decided to look at how existing law could be applied more effectively and “other non-legislative measures” – effectively abandoning the pledge.
The move was condemned as giving a “green light to a form of torture” and an “utter betrayal” of the LGBT+ community.
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It comes only a day after Equalities Minister Mike Freer told MPs the Government was “wholly committed” to legislation and that work was “progressing at pace”.
But a leaked briefing document disclosed that ministers involved in drawing up the legislation, including Liz Truss, had not been told of the decision.
“While Liz is not ideologically committed to the legislation, she is likely to be concerned about owning the new position, having personally committed to delivering the Bill,” it said.
The briefing document warned that abandoning the plan would provoke a “noisy backlash” from LGBT groups and from some MPs – and that Mr Freer and the PM’s envoy on LGBT issues, Lord Herbert, could resign.
It suggests the announcement could be made in this year’s Queen’s Speech in May, so it could be presented as a matter of “prioritising” the Government’s legislative programme and was not singling out a LGBT issue.
It says they could argue that: “Given the unprecedented circumstances of major pressures on cost of living and the crisis in Ukraine, there is an urgent need to rationalise our legislative programme.”
Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie spoke proudly of the PM’s record on LGBT rights at Tory conference in October, including his promised ban on conversion therapy.
“A government that believes conversion therapy is acceptable in 21st century Britain is no friend of the LGBT+ community.”
Liberal Democrat Equalities spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said it was “an utter betrayal of the LGBT+ community”.
“This is not just yet another u-turn from the Tories, but giving the green light to a form of torture in the UK,” she said.
“Conversion therapy should have been banned years ago, but the Conservatives are looking the other way on this abusive and dangerous practice, this is a complete injustice.”
Jayne Ozanne, who quit the Government’s LGBT advisory panel last year, told ITV: “I gave (the Prime Minister) the benefit of the doubt thinking he would keep his word and he would deliver for the LGBT community the one thing they promised for us.”
She added: “How on earth are we meant to trust those in power when they renege on any promise that’s been made and don’t seem to understand the harm that so many people are facing right now in Britain today?”
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, blasted the news as a “deeply regressive move”.
He said: “People do not need to be ‘cured’. Conversion ‘therapy’ is harmful and has a terrible impact on a person’s mental health, and people who have been subject to these practices go on to experience poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and self-hatred.
“Existing laws and policies have failed to protect people from conversion therapy. We will continue to fight for the banning of these practices and will make sure the UK Government understands once again just how vital this ban is.
“Anything other than an outright ban is an abject failure.”
A Government spokesperson said: “Having explored this sensitive issue in great depth the government has decided to proceed by reviewing how existing law can be deployed more effectively to prevent this in the quickest way possible, and explore the use of other non-legislative measures.”