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World News

Christian groups vow to continue campaigning following government's double U-turn on gay conversion therapy

by Kelly Valencia

There's been a mixed reaction to the government's apparent withdrawal of legislation to ban gay conversion therapy and the subsequent reintroduction.

On Thursday, a leaked document by ITV News confirmed the government was planning to drop the conversion therapy ban legislation entirely and was looking to explore non-legislative routes to stop the practice.

"The PM has agreed we should not move forward with legislation to ban LGBT conversion therapy," the document read.

But after an immediate backlash by LGBT groups, the government decided to U-turn on the decision saying the legislation would be in fact included in the Queen's Speech in May but it will only cover "gay conversion therapy, not trans".

It means the legislation will outlaw practices which seek to change someone's sexuality but not those which seek to change people's sexual identity.

"[It] just feels like a kick in the stomach, like a kick in the teeth," Rev Delyth Liddell from LGBT group Dignity and Worth told Premier.

"We stand with the trans community in this. It's not okay to say, we will ban conversion therapy for sexuality, but not for gender identity, especially in the light of the amount of transphobia that we are having in in the community, this is just another example of that."

For those Christians campaigning against the conversion therapy ban, the government's decision still leaves space for the everyday work of churches such as consensual conversations about identity, Bible studies and prayer to be outlawed by the ban as proposed.

"I think this is in a state of flux, so I think that's probably a good thing." Graham Nicholls, director of church network.

Nichols has previous co-authored a letter encouraging the government to pull back on plans to legislate on this issue.

"It would have been great if it was as simple as it appeared earlier last night but I think the fact that it's kind of shifting around is probably a good thing. We'll continue the debate and hopefully they will allow us to make our arguments."

"We need to continue to campaign for preaching, consensual conversations, and parents talking to their children about all of these issues, both gay and transgender issues, and be able to explain what God's Word teaches and for none of those activities to be banned."

A Government spokesperson told Premier: "The Government has a proud record on LGBT rights, and the Prime Minister is committed to bringing forward legislation to ban conversion therapy.

"The content, scope and timing of the proposed bill will be confirmed in due course."

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