The UK government has been taking its sweet time to introduce a strong ban on gay conversion therapy, but Nicola Sturgeon is no longer going to wait for them to act.
On Sunday, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, and the Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), spoke out against the British government because of their laxity in acting on the controversial practice of gay conversion therapy in the UK.
During her speech she pledged to take matters into her own hands if the government fails to implement serious changes. She promised to put an end to conversion therapy, and committed to reforming the Gender Recognition Act. She said:
If the UK Government does not take serious action on conversion therapy, an SNP government will bring forward our own legislation to end these discriminatory and harmful practices against LGBT people insofar as the powers of the Scottish Parliament allow.
The SNP remain committed to improving the lives of trans and non-binary people. Trans people continue to suffer stigma and prejudice and suffer poorer health outcomes relative to the wider population.
The ban on gay conversation therapy
Although the government promised to ban these practices back in 2018, it has still not been done. Furthermore, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of creating a ‘loophole’ in the proposed ban to appease religious organisations. The Independent reported that he addressed this loophole in a letter to the Evangelical Alliance. Johnson wrote:
As the government made clear in 2018, when we first made our commitment to end conversion therapy, we will continue to allow adults to receive appropriate pastoral support (including prayer), in churches and other religious settings, in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBT+ charity, Stonewall, told The Independent that any loophole in a ban will have harmful repercussions. They commented:
We know that half of the conversion therapy practices that take place in the UK are faith-based. So any ban that has loopholes for any type of practice — including religious practices — will leave vulnerable LGBTQIA+ people at risk of further harm.
It’s vital the UK government puts forward a full legal ban that protects LGBTQIA+ people from all forms of conversion therapy in every setting.
Last month, three members of the government’s LGBT+ panel quit because the Conservatives failed to keep up with their promise to introduce the ban. Consequently, the government has disbanded the panel until they can find a suitable replacement body.