Thinking Anglicans reports on the discussion regarding conversion therapy happening in the United Kingdom, prompted in part by the July 3 publication of an LGBTQ Action Plan (accessible here as a PDF) from the Government Equalities Office and the Rt. Hon. Penny Mordaunt MP, Secretary of State for International Development. From the press release:
The Government will eradicate the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy in the UK as part of a new 75-point action plan, published today (Tuesday 3 July), to tackle discrimination and improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the UK.
The LGBT Action Plan will be published alongside the results of the largest national survey of LGBT people ever undertaken. The survey, which had over 108,000 respondents, shows LGBT people are experiencing prejudice on a daily basis.
More than two in three of those who participated in the survey said they avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner in public for fear of a negative reaction, while 23% said people at work had reacted negatively to them being LGBT and over half of those who accessed or tried to access mental health services said they had to wait too long.
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
We can be proud that the UK is a world leader in advancing LGBT rights, but the overwhelming response to our survey has shone a light on the many areas where we can improve the lives of LGBT people…
The plan allocates funding that will, among other things, support the appointment of a national LGBTQ health advisor, refresh and implement a Hate Crime Action Plan, working with police, and “invest in programmes that tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools, and ensure that the new subjects of Relationships Education, and Relationships and Sex Education will support all pupils, whatever their developing sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The Church of England responded to the released plan initially in March with the following statement (press release linked here), which follows from a motion from General Synod in 2017 (linked below):
“We warmly welcome the Government commitment to eradicate gay conversion therapy in this country.
“As a motion endorsed overwhelmingly by the Church of England’s General Synod last summer concludes, the practice is unethical, potentially harmful and has no place in the modern world.
“Since then the Church of England has pressed the Government to consider outlawing the practice and the Second Church Estates Commissioner Dame Caroline Spelman has held a number of meetings with ministers to that end.
“As we await the detail of any proposals, we also welcome the recognition that any steps taken should not have the unintended consequence of preventing people seeking spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Thinking Anglicans includes links to responses from U.K. religious groups who support conversion therapy and challenge the passage of the plan. This includes “Ten Good Reasons not to restrict therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction,” those ten reasons primarily being that such restrictions are discriminatory toward non-LGBTQ people and an attack on freedom of religion, privacy, family life, expression, speech, conscience, assembly and information.