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World News

'U-turn on a u-turn on a u-turn': UK government announces changes to conversion therapy ban plans

by Premier Journalist

The UK government has committed to including transgender people in a bill to end conversion therapy, despite warnings from the church that it may criminalise church leaders praying for those with unwanted same-sex feelings or gender dysphoria. 

Previously, only lesbian, gay and bisexual people were to be included in the proposed ban.

Michelle Donelan, the Culture Secretary, has confirmed that the bill will be published shortly. 

The ban would see it become illegal to attempt to convert anyone who identifies as LGBT+, but Ms Donelan has herself said that the phrasing on the bill poses a linguistic minefield. 

She warned that the legislation must not “harm the growing number of children and young adults experiencing gender-related distress, through inadvertently criminalising or chilling legitimate conversations parents or clinicians may have with their children". 

Former Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes said the announcement of a complete ban was “very good news” 

It’s an issue that has divided Christians. Christian LGBT+ activist Jayne Ozanne has called for even stronger legislation, saying: “Goodness, just how much longer can the [Government Equalities Office] drag this process out?

“Now we're to have Pre-Legislative Scrutiny, which even though I'm assured it'll be swift is still yet more delay.

“I await to see whether this will be a meaningful ban without any is very low!”

Pre-legislative scrutiny will allow early drafts of the new bill to be examined by a select committee before it appears before government. 

The Evangelical Alliance– who previously called for greater attention to be paid to the language used in earlier iterations of the bill to ensure the safety of church leaders – applauded the decision to include pre-legislative scrutiny.

Head of Advocacy, Danny Webster, said on Twitter: “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.”

Like many others, he also criticised the tooing-and-froing of the Government's stance, branding it a "u-turn on a u-turn on a u-turn". 

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