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Another bid to ban gay conversion therapy reaches Parliament

by Premier Journalist

Yet another bid to introduce a ban on so-called conversion therapy is set to be discussed in the House of Lords 

Baroness Burt, a Liberal Democrat peer has tabled a Private Members' Bill proposing a UK-wide ban to be debated in the Lords in December at next year. 

A conversion therapy ban was first promised under Theresa May's government in 2018, but is yet to be put into motion by the government and was absent completly from October's King's Speech. 

James Mildred, the Chief Communications Offier for CARE, says there's a very real danger of a conversion therapy ban infringing on the freedoms of the church to uphold traditional biblical teachings on sexual ethics. 

"Because conversion therapy practices or conversion therapy models are so difficult to accurately define, the danger is that with any conversion therapy ban, you end up criminalising Christian parents, Christian teachers, medical professionals, some people who work in therapy, for example, and actually what you'll do is you'll undermine really important freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of expression." 

Mildred also points out that a ban would limit LGBTQ identifiying believers "who actively want pastoral help and want prayer". 

The Lib Dem peer told the BBC the proposed new law aims to "robustly differentiate" between genuine psychological or religious practice, and conversion therapy practices, to protect legitimate therapies and prayer.

It is unclear exactly what stipulates "legitimate therapies". 

Jayne Ozanne, a former government LGBT advisor who resigned over delays on banning conversion therapy, told the BBC that a ban could still protect religious freedoms.

"Any conversation that allows people to be challenged and explore who they are, is to be welcomed," she said. "But when the mindset is 'you can never be gay, or you can never be transgender', that thinking will cause great harm."

Mildred, who holds a conservative view, agrees: "We have to be clear that any practices or treatments or therapies which seek to force or coerce people to change their sexual identity, or gender identity are wholly and completely inappropriate."

"And the second thing we have to acknowledge is historically, the Church that is committed to biblical teaching on sexual ethics and the biblical teaching on biological sex, that we haven't always got things right, that there have been times where we have caused harm where we have been unwelcoming where, perhaps with good intentions, we haven't always practised the love of neighbour that the Lord Jesus Christ caused us to.  

He insists however that "it is possible to hold on to the biblical historic orthodox teaching around sexuality and at the same time, be genuinely welcoming, and in a right way, loving towards people who are same sex attracted and struggle with gender identity".

The concern of CARE, he says, is that the current bill contains "no safeguard whatsoever" when it comes to church freedoms and urged those conncerned to write to members of the House of Lords "politely, calmly and compassionately" to express them.





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