Three years on, the UK Government is still ‘’dragging its feet’’ about banning gay conversion therapy.

24 June 2021

For two weeks during Pride month, Kingsley Napley are publishing a series of blogs to celebrate Pride and highlight LGBTQ+ issues from home and abroad.

 

Following on from my colleague Sameena Munir’s blog ‘’pray the gay away: cull conversion therapy worldwide’’, the issue of gay conversion therapy dominates contemporary conversations surrounding LGBT politics and legislation in the UK, but the Government has failed to deliver on its promise to ban it.

Conversion therapy is the widely condemned and often cruel torture that many LGBTQ+ people have been subject to, in an attempt to change their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. ILGA World, an international LGBT organisation, has reported that throughout the last century, medical practitioners worldwide have continued to impose ‘’brutal and inhumane techniques’’, such as medical experimentation, castration, chemical and electroshock treatments and even corrective rape, to name just a few, as a means to ‘cure’ homosexuality. This manner of experimentation and abuse has been protected under the legitimising cloak of medicine, psychology and science, and further justified on the grounds of religion, culture, and even compassion.

The damaging and destructive effects of these experiments are hardly surprising - research has found that young LGBT people victim to conversion therapy are more likely to develop mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, and shockingly, are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, than those who are accepted for their sexuality and gender identity.

Current Political Situation:

In 2018, Theresa May’s government pledged to end archaic and abusive therapeutic practices in the UK, yet nothing has changed three years on. The current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has reiterated his predecessor’s concerns that the practice is ‘’abhorrent’’, but has failed to offer any further legislative proposals or public recognition of the issues LGBT people are facing on account of this method of treatment, thereby creating a ‘hostile environment’ for the community. Three key figures on the Government’s LGBT advisory panel, including Jayne Ozanne, quit earlier this year ‘’due to the Government's persistent and worsening hostility towards our community’’.

In March of this year, representatives from eight political parties wrote to the Equalities Minister demanding a ban on conversion therapy, in the biggest display of unity on a LGBT+ issue in Parliament’s history. However, the Minister for Equalities Kemi Badenoch’s response has been slammed as “disappointingly weak, vague and unempathetic", as she actively avoided using the word ‘ban’ in her statements, preferring the ambiguity offered by ‘end’. This has engineered much criticism from the LGBT community, as it appears that the Government cannot even bring itself to say ‘ban conversion therapy’, let alone develop the legislative infrastructure necessary to implement it.

On a brighter note, Northern Ireland has become the first UK nation to vote in favour of banning this injurious practice, which Stonewall has considered to be ‘’a powerful move forward for a full legal ban on conversion therapy’’. Despite the practice receiving cross-party recognition as ‘’humiliating and harmful’’, the DUP, the largest party in Stormont, has pledged to veto the ban unless there are ‘robust protections for churches’.  Some may say that the DUP adopting a socially regressive and oppositional stance against positive social change comes as no surprise. However, it does emerge as a source of concern in cementing the perception that the UK as a whole is ‘’dragging its feet in the water’’ about the ban on conversion therapy, particularly if it is in defence of a steadily declining church in an increasingly tolerant society. 

Global Context of Conversion Therapy:

That said, there are grounds for much optimism and celebration. Bans on conversion therapy are increasingly recognised in laws across the world, with several countries implementing direct legislation, be it on national or regional levels, curbing the practice. National laws prohibiting conversion therapy are recognised in Brazil, Ecuador, Germany and Malta, with regional bans in the US, Canada, Australia and Spain.

There are also five countries – Argentina, Uruguay, Samoa, Fiji and Nauru – which have indirect bans.

The UK already has a fairly robust legislative infrastructure to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination, and in many respects is an international leader of LGBT equality. The hope exists that this Pride month, the UK Government will be inspired to take more steps in  fulfilling its promise to protect and embrace this vibrant, loving and dynamic community, by providing the legislative safeguards so desperately needed to ban conversion therapy and work towards complete acceptance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Úna Campbell is a legal apprentice in the Real Estate and Construction team at Kingsley Napley.
 
Úna was the inaugural winner of The Legal Apprentice in 2019, a competition run by Kingsley Napley in association with The Times in which 902 teams from 308 schools and colleges across the UK competed against each other through a series of heats testing pupils’ drafting, negotiation and interpersonal skills.

 

Latest Pride blogs

Black History Month – why do I care?

Celebrating this year’s Black History Month (BHM) with is powerful campaign, “Proud to Be”, is an apt time for us all to consider why we (should) care about Black history and culture.

Black History Month - The Power of Diverse Storytelling

When Black History Month was established in the United States, over a century ago, it was intended as a way to celebrate and give national recognition to black stories and perspectives.

At Kingsley Napley, we believe in the power of diverse and representative stories and we have found some wonderful and effective ways to share them that you might like to try too.

Celebrating Bisexuality Visibility Day!

The visibility of the “B” in our LGBTQ+ umbrella is marked every year on 23 September. At Kingsley Napley, we are proud to have bisexual members of our LGBTQ+ and Allies Network and strive for everyone to feel like they can be themselves and bring their whole selves to work. Outside KN, and in this year alone, Robin has come out as bisexual in the new Batman comic, more awareness has been raised about bisexuality with celebrities, such as Megan Fox, Lily Cole, speaking out and there is more representation of bisexual people in mainstream shows, such as Sex Education, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

World Suicide Prevention Day

To mark Suicide Prevention Day and raise awareness of the prevalence of deaths by suicide in the UK, Kingsley Napley is set to host a mental health panel discussion on 10 September 2021.

Trans people who lack mental capacity – How are decisions relating to transitioning made?

Trans adults with full decision-making capacity have the freedom to secure hormonal and surgical interventions to align their bodies with the physical attributes typical of the gender with which they identify (a process known as “transitioning”). However, for those who lack capacity, the involvement of others who are responsible for making decisions on their behalf is required, and the position can be complex as a result. This blog explores the approach to making decisions relating to transitioning on behalf of protected trans people, applying the best interests test and guidance from case law, and discussing the practicalities for decision-makers.

The National Disability Strategy: the most comprehensive, concerted, cross-government plan ever. Is it really?

On the 28 July 2021, the Government unveiled the highly anticipated National Disability Strategy (‘the strategy’). Pledged in the Government’s 2019 manifesto, the aim is to “improve the everyday lives of disabled people”. The Prime Minister described the strategy as the most comprehensive, concerted, cross-government plan relating to disability ever. A bold claim, but is it justified?

Kingsley Napley wishes our Muslim Community Eid Mubarak as Eid al-Adha is celebrated around the world.

Whilst our Muslim colleagues and friends celebrate over communal meals and prayer, it is also a time for us at Kingsley Napley to reflect on the importance of observing and respecting the cultural and religious differences of others. We are motivated to make Kingsley Napley a place which is not only diverse, but also inclusive, where all our people feel able to bring their true selves to work.

Drag queens and activism: a story of political realness

When I told some of my friends I was writing a piece about drag activism, their reaction was almost unanimous… 

"Oh, but, is there much to say?" 

That's when I realised that drag queens, for many, are more synonymous with big hair and lip-syncing  pop hits rather than political consciousness and activism. You can certainly understand the reason for this - we have been totally spoiled in recent years with the explosion of Ru Paul’s Drag Race around the world - the make-up, talents and confidence being a feast for the eyes (and the soul). But we cannot minimise the political importance of Mama Ru’s creation. Who could forget numbers such as “Shady Politics”; the discussions of gay conversion therapy while applying make-up; and Bob the Drag Queen describing his arrest during a 2011 marriage equality protest? Not to mention Nancy Pelosi sashaying into the All Stars season…

Coming out? How to support your friends and family members when they come out to you.

Coming out is an extremely personal journey and will be unique to each person. It takes a lot of courage to come out and a person may have to repeatedly do this in their personal and professional lives. Statistics show that 46% of people who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual and 47% of people who identify as trans feel comfortable to discuss their orientation or gender identity.

When the arch of the rainbow actually casts a shadow on you.

How can you put the spotlight on intersectionality to remind others that, even within the LGBTQ+ community, not everyone is treated equal?

Are you proud of who you are, your journey and the person that you’ve become? Do you truly wear your heart on your sleeve? For some, being open and honest about who we are (which includes our gender identity or sexuality) does not come easily and can be extremely hard. It can be even tougher at work, and for those that hide their true self, the energy expenditure is endless. That survival cost of energy makes you less productive, or even worse still, it has a detrimental impact on your mental and physical health.

The Conversations That We’re Forgetting to Have

I am a trans woman who has recently embarked on her transition. Having only taken my first steps on this journey, I am acutely aware when writing this that I have much to learn about myself, about being trans, and about the diverse LGBTQ+ family that I now find myself part of. However, there is one theme that I feel is important to discuss as we celebrate Pride in 2021.

Three years on, the UK Government is still ‘’dragging its feet’’ about banning gay conversion therapy.

Following on from my colleague Sameena Munir’s blog ‘’pray the gay away: cull conversion therapy worldwide’’, the issue of gay conversion therapy dominates contemporary conversations surrounding LGBT politics and legislation in the UK, but the Government has failed to deliver on its promise to ban it.

"They will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am.” - The rise of queer artists and the importance of visibility

For two weeks during Pride month, Kingsley Napley are publishing a series of blogs to celebrate Pride and highlight LGBTQ+ issues from home and abroad.

It’s been 9 years since R&B artist Frank Ocean headed off rumours about his particular pronoun usage in the album Channel Orange by posting on Tumblr that his first love had been a man. Since then, the momentum for the openness and success of queer artists has continued to gather pace, and LGBTQ+ representation in the arts and mainstream media is as wide as it has ever been. This rise has however raised important questions about pigeonholing queer artists, and perhaps most interestingly whether they must always shoulder the responsibility of ‘pushing the agenda’.

Visibility, Unity and Equality: out and proud in the legal sector

In February this year, I attended a virtual talk held by the InterLaw Diversity Forum for LGBT+ History Month. The speakers featured individuals working in the legal sector and each discussed their experience of coming out as trans or non-binary at work. It feels an apt lesson given this year’s Pride theme: Visibility, Unity and Equality.

Things not to say to same-sex parents

In January 2020, I was fortunate enough to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy.  As far as I know, I am the first partner at Kingsley Napley (although certainly not the first employee) who has a baby who is lucky enough to have two mums.  News of my pregnancy was met with overwhelming support from my colleagues.  That support continues to this very day, and my wife and I remain truly grateful for the kindness that has been shown to us.  However, since falling pregnant I have learnt that not all workplaces are as supportive to same-sex parents as mine.  The concept of two mums or two dads starting a family is something that some people still struggle to get their heads around.   So this year, for our KN Pride blog series, I have decided to explain the questions, that speaking from my own experience, it is not helpful to say to same-sex parents.

Our diversity journey and where we want to REACH

We have newly renamed our network to the Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (REACH) group. Our REACH network is a space where we come together to work towards fostering and maintaining an inclusive workplace, where we can all reach our full potential without fear of discrimination.

Positive representation in law

Satvir Sokhi was recently invited to speak and take part in Leeds Beckett University’s Law Enrichment session which allowed a panel of ethnically diverse professionals to speak to students about our experiences with diversity and inclusion within the legal sector.

The importance of LGBTQ+ spaces on International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

On this day each year, over 130 countries around the world seek to celebrate sexual and gender diversities and draw attention to the various forms of discrimination and violence that the LGBTQ+ community continue to experience. 

How to check if the law firm you are interviewing at is diversity friendly?

There are various drivers forcing law firms to embrace a more diverse workforce and to attract, promote and retain talent from all backgrounds, regardless of gender, gender-identity, race, ethnicity,  sexuality, religion, age, and socio-economic class (to name but a few).

IWD: The right to walk alone without fear – what I and other men need to be doing

Following the tragic events of this week, I have thought back to the past two weeks and considered how my position might have been different if I was a woman.  I now recognise just how incredibly ‘normal’ it has become for women to be warned against walking alone at night, which is something I have never had to consider as a man.  This dichotomy between the experiences of men and women has been made clear by the reaction across traditional and social media.

LGBTQ bulletin board

LGBTQ bulletin board

Drag queens and activism: a story of political realness

Read the blog

Coming out? How to support your friends and family members when they come out to you.

Read the blog

When the arch of the rainbow actually casts a shadow on you.

Read the blog

Three years on, the UK Government is still ‘’dragging its feet’’ about banning gay conversion therapy.

Read the blog

"They will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am.” - The rise of queer artists and the importance of visibility

Read the blog

Visibility, Unity and Equality: out and proud in the legal sector

Read more

Pride 2021 blog series: Things not to say to same-sex parents

Read blog

The importance of LGBTQ+ spaces on International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

By Emily Elliott

READ BLOG

The lionesses: how female footballers are tackling equality with pride

Read blog

Network members attend seminar on gender-neutral drafting, sponsored by InterLaw

See Guide to Gender-Neutral Drafting

Kingsley Napley listed in the “Top 25 in the Legal Sector” of the Workplace Equality Index 2019

Read more

Letter to a Homophobe

by Melinka Berridge

Read blog

Kingsley Napley's LGBTQ+ Blog Series 2020

Read our 2020 blog series

Hidden Flags

By Mary Young

Read blog

Pray the gay away: cull conversion therapy worldwide

By Sameena Munir

Read blog

#IDAHOBIT day 2019

Two thirds of LGBTQ people still being harassed at work: IDAHOBIT is a timely reminder of the work that still needs to be done

Read Stephen Parkinson's blog

LGBTQ & Allies Network members attend (and win) quiz in support of The Outside Project - the Uk's first LQBTIQ+ community shelter and centre

Kingsley Napley Pride lanyards #Pride2019

More rainbows, but also more hate crime: why Pride is still so important in 2019

By Emily Elliott

Read blog

Share insightLinkedIn Twitter Facebook Email to a friend Print

Email this page to a friend

We welcome views and opinions about the issues raised in this blog. Should you require specific advice in relation to personal circumstances, please use the form on the contact page.

Leave a comment

You may also be interested in:

Close Load more

Skip to content Home About Us Insights Services Contact Accessibility