Our letter to MPs on conversion therapy

Letters

(30th March 2021).

Last week we wrote to all MPs. Replies are coming in and we’ve got some introduction meetings lined up. Here’s what we sent them:

 

Stop transing the gay away

We are writing to you following the motion on LGBT Conversion Therapy debated in the House of Commons on Monday 8 March 2021.

LGB Alliance represents lesbians, gay men and bisexuals and we are united in our opposition to attempts to coerce or intimidate people into changing their sexual orientation.

Having listened to the debate carefully, and having been involved in these issues for some time, we believe there are two matters that did not receive enough consideration:

1) Sexual orientation and “gender identity” are two distinct categories which need to be considered separately.

2) Affirming a gender non-conforming child as trans, who would otherwise grow up to be lesbian, gay or bisexual, is itself a form of conversion therapy.

The government should not add “gender identity” to sexual orientation in any legislation on conversion therapy. They are separate issues. Many activists who support the ban on conversion therapy promote what’s called the “affirmative model” for the treatment of gender dysphoria. They believe a girl who asserts she is a boy must be affirmed as a boy, and call any psychotherapy to explore the causes for the child’s distress “conversion therapy”.

This means adding “gender identity” to a policy on “gay conversion therapy” would criminalise therapists who want to do their job. If the therapist helps the child or young person explore their feelings or underlying mental health issues they could risk a prison sentence. This is what has happened with a Bill banning conversion therapy recently enacted in Victoria, Australia. We were disturbed to hear MPs praise that Bill as a fine example.

Besides criminalising therapists, adding gender identity to such a Bill would put children and young people, particularly LGB young people, at risk of progressing to a medical transition with lifetime consequences they may later regret. Evidence shows that in 80% of children with gender dysphoria, the condition resolves with puberty. It also shows that the vast majority of these distressed teenagers (75% of whom are girls) would likely grow up lesbian or gay if not medicalised.

As lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, we oppose conversion therapy. The Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch in the debate was right to say that conversion therapy has “no place in a civilised society”. Neutral therapy for gender dysphoria is not “conversion therapy”.

We are here to protect the interests of young people who would grow up lesbian or gay if not medicalised. We would be delighted to meet you to discuss these complex and sensitive issues further.