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Rishi Sunak to stop conversion therapy legislation

Religious Liberty
27 September 2023
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The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to drop a ban on conversion therapy, with ministers concluding its just too difficult and complex to legislate on.

Officials are instead reportedly working on guidance which will highlight existing laws that already criminalise activities associated with conversion therapy.

A draft version of a bill was supposedly sent to the PM over the summer.

But since then, there's been multiple media reports suggesting the prime minister has concluded that similar legislation in other countries has proved problematic and unworkable.


Part of the issue with the proposed ban on conversion therapy was its legal complexity. How can you pass a law that gives campaigners like Stonewall everything they want, without breaching people's human rights, including the right to freedom of expression and religion?

Some of those supporting a ban have been open about wanting it to be so broad that ordinary Church activities are covered as well. Things like private prayer and consensual counselling were all under threat, if the Government followed through with a broad conversion therapy ban.

Any form of abusive practice under the term 'conversion therapy' is abhorrent and wrong. But there are laws in place to cover such offences. These include, but are not limited too:

  • Corrective rape is illegal under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
  • Forced marriage is covered by Section 121 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime, Policing Act 2014.
  • Holding down (while praying/carrying out an exorcism is covered by section 47 in the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861.
  • Verbal abuse is covered by sections 4a and 5 of the Public Order Act.

The list above is by no means exhaustive. But it highlights that there are existing protections already in place. A conversion therapy ban would only duplicate existing laws and run the risk of breaching wider human rights. As such, it is wiser for the Government to stop pursuing a legislative ban.

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The right to freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental human right. We are campaigning to safeguard these freedoms in our society.

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