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UK News

Banning conversion therapy: Christian LGBTQ campaigners disappointed at government's response

Christian LGBTQ campaigners have expressed disappointment with the Government's response to the debate on banning conversion therapy, while other church leaders are nervous that it could make prayer and pastoral guidance illegal. 

During a parliamentary debate on Monday, MPs renewed their calls for the Government to commit to a ban on sexual orientation conversion therapy in the UK, following a petition which had gathered more than 200, 000 signatures. 

Campaigners for the ban argue that the Government has failed to deliver a "clear pathway" since it first committed to banning it three years ago. 

The Government said it will continue to "listen carefully" to develop appropriate measures and has commissioned research "into the scope of practices and the experiences of those subjected to conversion therapy" and that next steps will be set out "soon". 

However, Christian, LGBT+ campaigner and Labour MP Stephen Doughty said the Government's response was "weak" and "full of excuses".

At the heart of the issue is whether to include prayer and spiritual guidance in the definition of therapy. 

Proponents of the ban fear not including spiritual and pastoral scenarios could cover-up some practices, while some Christian leaders worry that including it would make praying for someone, or expressing views about what they see as living for God, unlawful.

Speaking to Premier earlier this month, Ed Shaw, pastor of Emmanuel City Centre Bristol, and a same-sex attracted Christian said he believes that it should not be illegal to help someone "suppress" his or her sexuality. 

"If we allow the language of suppression, to come into government legislation, that could have damaging effects, not just on LGBT people, but also on other people who are seeking to live with their sexuality. 

"So, yes, let's ban attempts to change people's sexual orientation. But let's make sure that we don't stop people accessing the help they feel they freely need to live with their sexual orientation."

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said the Government will not provide a definition.

"It is not the place of Government to dictate what is legitimate spiritual guidance, but it is the Government's place to protect all their citizens, and we will not tolerate the use of harmful coercive practices under the guise of spiritual support," she said. 

"We do not intend to stop those who wish to seek spiritual counselling as they explore their sexual orientation, but there will be cases when a line is crossed, where someone is actively seeking to change another's sexual orientation-an innate aspect of their personal identity-via coercion under the guise of spiritual support. The Government will exercise great care when considering what does and does not constitute conversion therapy, and how to intervene," she concluded. 

To watch the parliamentary debate, click here

Conversion therapy has been already banned in Switzerland, parts of Australia, Canada and the US.

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