The Methodist Church has voted that “no conversion therapy can take place in its name” and has urged the UK government to ban the practice without delay.
During its conference in Birmingham, delegates voted to forbid any form of practice which seeks to change or suppress someone's gender identity or sexuality.
It has also voted to support the “Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK”, a definition of conversion therapy supported by many counselling organisations including the Association of Christian Counsellors.
“Conversion therapy’ is an umbrella term for a therapeutic approach, or any model or individual viewpoint that demonstrates an assumption that any sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently preferable to any other, and which attempts to bring about a change of sexual orientation or gender identity or seeks to suppress an individual’s expression of sexual orientation or gender identity on that basis,” the definition reads.
The decision to support banning conversion therapy comes as part of another series of landmark votes made during their annual conference. It also voted to allow same-sex marriages for its ministers and on its premises, affirm cohabitation and also overturned the previous ban on online communion.
Jayne Ozane, Director of the Ozanne Foundation and co-chair of The Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition took part in conversion therapy herself for a decade. She took to Twitter to celebrate the news.
“So pleased - now 2nd largest Christian denomination in UK has also voted like @churchofenglandto #banconversiontherapy, showing that the majority of Christians understand the harm this causes & the need for there to be legislation that outlaws this degrading & inhumane practice!.”
The Methodist church has urged its council to further review how to best work with the government to engage on this issue.
A public consultation is due to take place in September.