Dear Elizabeth Truss MP,
We are writing to you as a group of over 50 registered therapists and trainee therapists who are in support of a full ban on so-called “conversion therapy” practices.
As therapists, we already have an ethical obligation not to practice so-called “conversion therapy”, but we are aware that these harmful practices do take place. In the 2018 National LGBT Survey, 7% of respondents had been subjected to or offered conversion practices. Amongst trans respondents, the figure was higher at 13%.
We are very concerned to see that the government has abandoned their commitment to a ban that includes all LGBTQIA+ people, which leaves trans and non-binary people still vulnerable to these abusive practices.
Likewise, as therapists we also see first hand the incredible life-saving impact of ethical and inclusive therapeutic support for LGBTQIA+ people. This support is not consistently found in health care services in the UK, often forcing this community to seek specialist LGBTQ+ services which may not be locally available, leaving vulnerable people without the help they need (1).
You have already acknowledged that conversion practices do not work and are harmful, and therefore we believe it is essential to implement a full legislative ban as detailed in the briefing by the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition (2) which is available on their website.
According to the government’s response to the recent petition (signed by over 145,000 people), the reason given for the exclusion of gender identity from the current ban is that “those who experience gender dysphoria may seek talking therapy [and] it is vital that legitimate support is not inadvertently impacted.” We believe it is for precisely this reason that a full ban is needed: “legitimate” support can of course include explorative therapy, and clinical standards will not be impacted by a ban. The Memorandum of understanding [MoU] (Version 2) on conversion therapy in the UK (3) sets out that ending converstion therapy "is not intended to deny, discourage or exclude those with uncertain feelings around sexuality or gender identity from seeking qualified and appropriate help." The MoU has been signed by over 25 health, counselling and psychotherapy organisations and we also support it. Coercive and unethical practices must be stopped in order to protect all of our community.
We understand that there will be a Westminster Hall debate on Monday 13 June and we hope you will lend your support to a ban that ensures no one is left at risk of abuse.
We would be glad to discuss this further with you and appreciate your support.
Therapists Against Conversion Therapy and Transphobia (TACTT)
(1) Bachman, C. L., & Gooch, B. (2018) LGBT in Britain: Health Report. Stonewall. Available at https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/lgbt_in_britain_health.pdf.
(2) Briefing: PROTECTING TRANS VICTIMS OF GENDER IDENTITY CONVERSION PRACTICES. Available at https://www.banconversiontherapy.com/s/BCT-briefing_22-April-2022.pdf
(3) Memorandum of Understanding on ConversionTherapy in the UK Version 2 – Update March 2022. Available at https://www.bacp.co.uk/media/14985/memorandum-of-understanding-on-conversion-therapy-in-the-uk-march-2022.pdf.
Thanks so much for signing this letter - we're thrilled with the response so far. On Monday we'll send a copy to Liz Truss, as well as sending a link to the "live" letter.
Here are a few points: