Evangelicals “will work to ensure the Bill doesn't have a negative impact on individual freedoms or practices of churches”. The new law will now include transgender people.
The UK government has put on the table again the issue of so-called conversion therapies. The cabinet of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said a draft law to ban such practices would now include transgender people.
“We recognise the strength of feeling on the issue of harmful conversion practices and remain committed to protecting people from these practices and making sure they can live their lives free from the threat of harm or abuse”, said Culture secretary Michelle Donelan in a statement.
According to Donelan, “it is right that this issue is tackled through a dedicated and tailored legislative approach”, so that the government will promote scrutiny by a joint committee.
For the government, “this is a complex area, and pre-legislative scrutiny exists to help ensure that any Bill introduced to parliament does not cause unintended consequences and that it benefits from stakeholder expertise and input from parliamentarians”.
The government, which had previously said transgender conversion therapy would not be included in the ban, pointed out that the draft law will apply to England and Wales.
The UK Evangelical Alliance (EAUK) Director of advocacy, Danny Webster, criticised on Twitter the back-and-forth stance of a government that “had actually briefed in spring last year that they wouldn't be bringing forward legislation at all before rowing back on that, so what we've got today is a u-turn on the u-turn on a u-turn”.
However, he supported the pre-legislative scrutiny, which “is an important step and hopefully will be a chance to ensure the Bill doesn't have a negative impact on individual freedoms or the everyday practices of churches”.
Webster stressed that he is “looking forward to seeing the details of the governments plans and will be working” to make that a reality, because the “EAUK will have much more to say, including whether there are opportunities to input into the scrutiny of the proposed new law”.
2. This will be a draft bill which will have pre-legislative scrutiny. This is an important step and hopefully will be a chance to ensure the bill doesn't have a negative impact on individual freedoms or the everyday practices of churches.
— Danny Webster (@danny_webster) January 17, 2023
Peter Lynas, UK director of EAUK also said on social media that “the government wants to ban harmful or abusive conversion therapy and we continue to support them in that, while ensuring personal choice is respected and there are protections for parents, therapists, counsellors, youth workers and pastors”.
Then conversion therapy. The gov wants to ban harmful or abusive CT and we continue to support the gov in that - while ensuring personal choice is respected and there are protections for parents, therapists, counsellors, youth workers and pastors.
— Ｐｅｔｅｒ Ｌｙｎａｓ (@peterlynas) January 18, 2023
Meanwhile, Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, warned that “legislating in this area is plagued with problems. It will end up criminalising consensual conversations with those who genuinely want help and support. Human rights will be breached and any legislation will be the subject of extensive legal challenge”.
“No one has produced any evidence of what LGBT activists call coercive ‘conversion therapy’. What the activists describe would already be illegal”, she added.
Williams underlined that “the government’s proposals would only stop people seeking the change they want to see in their lives. That is a basic freedom which the government should not try to take away”.
“Despite what the government has announced, the problems remain: the definitions are inadequate, human rights will be breached and there is no evidence that a ban will help anyone”, the chief of Christian Concern concluded.
That is why Christian Concern's sister organisation the Christian Legal Centre “faces no alternative but to continue preparations for legal action against any proposed legislation in this area”, Williams said.