A ‘Conversion Therapy Ban’ is not a simple matter


An LGB Christians discussion paper


It is assumed by many in the media that ‘the LGBT community’ is unanimously behind a call for the banning of so-called “conversion therapy” in the UK. But the issue is far more complicated than many organisations are willing to acknowledge. Those in favour of a ban have the benefit of being able to simply repeat media-friendly slogans – which are not always fully candid or honest –  whereas those urging caution have to express lengthy and nuanced points. Here we will attempt to unpack the issues as straightforwardly as possible.

In summary

  • A ban may make it harder for people questioning, or in denial about, their sexual orientation from receiving appropriate psychological help
  • A ban will make it impossible for counsellors to help lesbian, gay, or bisexual people who have mistaken their confusion over their sexual orientation for gender dysphoria
  • A ban will prevent exploratory therapy for young people (who are likely to be LGB) questioning their gender identity
  • A ban will be ineffective for willing participants as terminology will simply change to avoid falling foul of the law
  • There are more robust existing laws outlawing abusive practices involving assault, rape, harassment and kidnapping, which would be more appropriate charges in circumstances where unwilling individuals are forced into such therapy

What is conversion therapy?

It is a therapeutic attempt to persuade a gay or lesbian person to suppress their natural sexual orientation and to “become heterosexual (or ‘straight’)”. There have been secular ‘therapies’, but most frequently it is inspired by a religious conviction that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is ‘a sin’. All leading professional bodies of psychiatry and psychology warn that the ‘therapy’ is at best ineffective and at worst profoundly damaging to the mental health of the person undergoing the ‘therapy’. This is the impetus for the legal ban. Lately, this has been reinterpreted to include attempts to change a person’s supposed “gender identity”.

A ban may do more harm than good to LGB people

It is important to note that public education and changing attitudes to homosexuality have greatly reduced the practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation, so whatever is gained by the ban must be weighed against the far greater risks. There are two principal risks:

  1. A chilling effect on psychologists treating people in the closet: In order to make the legislation seem even handed, the ban will include attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation either from gay to straight, or in the other direction, even though we’d be very surprised if in the history of humanity structured attempts to persuade a heterosexual person to become gay had ever been undertaken. But within the letter of the proposed law, a psychologist who realises that a patient presenting with an inadequate sexual ability to relate to the opposite sex might actually be gay or lesbian but unwilling to accept this due to internalised homophobia, might feel limited by the law to suggest exploring this possibility. This means that lesbian or gay people – who are far more likely to seek psychological counselling around sexuality matters – might not get the clinical help they need. This will diminish the quality of mental health support available to our community in the name of stamping out an abuse which is fading away on its own.
  2. The Trans trojan horse: One of the most troubling aspects of the call to ban ‘conversion therapy’ has been the insistence that this must include a ban on so-called “trans conversion therapy”. This will mean that psychologists and counsellors will be banned from exploring the source of a patients’ gender dysphoria or confusion. We are extremely concerned that this will impact many young people (in particular) who might be convinced by social pressure that they are “the wrong gender” rather than that they are simply, lesbian, gay, or bisexual. We are further concerned that the entire push for a “conversion therapy” ban may in fact be driven by an extremely aggressive Trans lobby for this very reason, rather than out of any concern for lesbian, gay or bisexual people. Some religious organisations, in our view, have been far more embracing of trans ideologies than they ever were of lesbians and gays, and this leads to a troubling conclusion that many might be trying to “trans-away-the-gay”.

Would a ban even have an effect?

It is doubtful that a ban would even work to protect LGB people. It could easily be subverted as workarounds would be found. Participants in ‘conversion therapy’ can be divided into those who are willing and those who are unwilling. Let’s review these in turn.

  1. Willing participants: Owing to internalised homophobia, many of those who seek out ‘conversion therapy’ do so of their own accord. Today, they would struggle to find a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist in the UK since the leading professional bodies already forbid therapies seeking to change sexual orientation. They would be more likely to find a ‘course’ run overtly or covertly by a religious organisation. These organisations would simply circumvent the ban by rebranding – using popular terminology – such as “sexuality-affirming and personal fulfilment” – and individuals who seek such “therapy” will collude in this deception.
  2. Unwilling participants: There have been troubling reports of the use of violence – especially sexual violence – in an attempt to change a lesbian or gay person’s sexual orientation, particularly in a religious fundamentalist setting. However, this is already illegal and would be better prosecuted under existing laws against, assault, battery, rape, or grievous bodily harm. In fact, it would be more effective fighting these violent and barbaric practices using this well-established law rather than under this nebulous (proposed) new law which diminishes the horror of these assaults behind unfamiliar terminology. Similarly, harassment, false-imprisonment, domestic violence, controlling behaviour, and other abuses attendant on these bogus therapies are already illegal in established law, so it is hard to see what will be gained. What is more likely to happen is that victims will be sent overseas – as they are in instances involving arranged marriages and female genital mutilation – where there is less scrutiny by the UK authorities. Some religious groups may even try to embed ‘conversion therapy’ practices under the heading of “exorcisms” and plead religious freedom. Euphemisms such as “witchcraft” may be substituted, making the practice even more opaque and potentially dangerous. The Church of England expressly bans exorcism being used as an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation “whether they consent or not”, but there are fears the practice is growing among African evangelical churches in the UK. Once again, the existing law can – and must – be applied to stop abuses against the person in the name of religion.


In short, the most determined to see through a promised “conversion” of their own free will will find a way, and for those who are coerced, we already have laws to protect them.

As Sir Peter Bottomley, Father of the House of Commons, said: “Over the last three years I and others have asked a succession of ministers and their officials to name one or more of the practices they intend to criminalise which are not already criminal. There is no specific answer… Without being specific about what you are criminalising you are putting parents at risk, you are putting other advisers and supporters of children at risk.”

So the question remains, why is there so much forceful campaigning for the introduction of this law. The answer is quite simple: it has nothing to do with protecting LGB people. It is a Trojan horse to make it difficult to campaign against the gender ideology persuading LGB people that they are actually “trans”. This is the real conversion therapy – for some this is the most effective way of “curing” homosexuality. Recently this has become known as “modern conversion therapy”.

It is a conversion process that goes back at least a century. Various regimes – for example, Iran and apartheid-era South Africa –  have forced gender changes onto lesbians and gays, while others have tried with chemicals to castrate us. We must not allow this to happen again under the guise of progressive politics and mindless virtue-signalling.

December 2023

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