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Mental health bodies campaign for change in conversion therapy ban

a protest against the government excluding transgender people from the conversion ban
a protest against the government excluding transgender people from the conversion ban Image credit: itv.com

Mental health campaigners are urging the government to ban conversion therapy for the transgender community after they were excluded from a recent promise to make the treatment illegal in the UK.

Earlier this month the government pledged to ban conversion therapy for gay and bisexual people, but would not commit to making the procedure unlawful for transgender people.

The news came just hours after the government said the ban would be dropped.

Defending the U-turn Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there are complexities which still need to be addressed before a full ban is put into place.

The Memorandum of Understanding Coalition Against Conversion Therapy (MOU) has published an open letter highlighting the risks transgender people will be exposed to if they are not included in the ban.

The MOU, which includes members of NHS England, the British Medical Association, psychotherapy, psychological and psychiatric bodies said:  "We are grateful to members across the psychotherapy and counselling profession, and the whole of mental health, for their clear statement in support of a ban on conversion therapy that should cover gender as well as sexuality."

Dr Adam Jowett, chairman of the British Psychological Society's sexualities section, stated conversation therapy for transgender people is “similar” to practices carried out on gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

He added: "Clinicians can still help people fully explore their gender identity where appropriate but it's time for this unacceptable and harmful practice to end."

Stephanie Davies-Arai, director of gender critical campaign group Transgender Trend, supported the ban saying “numerous therapists and the findings of the recent Cass Review that children should not be able to make irreversible life-changing decisions, particularly without parental involvement.

"Watching and waiting therapies are not 'conversion' and this bill obfuscated that fact."

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Mr Johnson told the press: "We will have a ban on gay conversion therapy, which to me is utterly abhorrent, but there are complexities and sensitivities when you move from the area of sexuality to the question of gender.

"There, I'm afraid, there are things that I think still need to be worked out.

"I'm sorry we haven't been able to reach agreement with the organisations concerned but that will in no way diminish our determination to tackle prejudice wherever we can."

July’s Safe to be LGBT conference which was being held by the government has been cancelled after over 100 organisations pulled out.