I should like to reassure you that I take this issue very seriously, and I know too that my colleagues in the Equalities Office remain committed to tackling conversion therapy in the UK.
I am absolutely clear that this practice has no place in civilised society. Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not an illness to be treated or cured.
I am encouraged that this view is shared by the head of the NHS, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the British Medical Association. Each of these bodies have concluded that such therapy is unethical and potentially harmful.
The Government Equalities’ Office commissioned a large-scale LGBT survey in 2017. Sadly, two per cent of respondents to the national LGBT survey said they had undergone conversion therapy in an attempt to ‘cure’ them of being LGBT. Unfortunately, in this survey, what conversion therapy entailed was not defined, nor were the respondents asked whether or not the conversion therapy referred to in their answer was offered in the UK.
I very much welcome the fact that the Government is delivering on its promise and will legislate to ban conversion therapy to protect LGBT people from this harmful practice.
I understand that the Government launched a consultation on how Ministers are planning to ban practices of so called 'conversion therapy'. The consultation was extended until February 2022 to allow for ample opportunity for all those to contribute their views including faith groups, LGBT organisations, counselling bodies and charities.
I am aware that the Government is proceeding with its legislative proposals to ban conversion therapy for lesbian, gay, and bi-sexual individuals. Alongside this, I have been assured that the Government is carrying out separate work on the issue of transgender conversion therapy. I understand that this is a legally complex area, and as such I will continue to monitor this situation.
I am positive about the steps that have been made so far in the UK to achieve LGBT equality, and am confident that this good work will continue.