Respond to Welsh govt LGBTQ+ action plan

6 October 2021

The Welsh Government is currently consulting on its draft LGBTQ+ Action Plan. Some of the proposed policies are very concerning, including the proposal to ban ‘LGBT conversion therapy’ in Wales for both adults and children.

The closing date for this consultation is 22 October.

We’ve provided a guide below for each of the questions, explaining the points to raise.

Please respond to the consultation using your own words to make the points which you care most about. You do not need to respond to every question.

Click here to respond to the consultation.

Question 1

Do you think the Action Plan will increase equality for LGBTQ+ people and what do you think the priorities should be?

The Action Plan will ironically decrease equality for LGBTQ+ people because it includes a proposal to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in devolved areas.

People can and so cease to identify as LGBT, and some choose explicitly to identify as ex-gay or as detransitioners. These people are protected in law. They should have the right to request help with unwanted sexual attractions. This right will be removed under the proposed ban.

The ‘Q’ in ‘LGBTQ+’ can refer to ‘questioning’, i.e. someone who questions their sexuality or gender identity. Banning therapy that allows for decrease in unwanted same-sex attraction and/or gender confusion would mean such people would not be allowed a free choice of the ‘answer’ to their self-questioning.

People who identify as LGBTQ+ are not the only stakeholders to this policy of banning ‘LGBT conversion therapy’. Very many people who experience same-sex attraction and engage in same-sex sexual behaviour do not identify as LGBTQ+. These people would also be negatively impacted by a ban.

Question 2

Do you agree with the overarching aims? What would you add or take away in relation the overarching aims?

Some of the overarching aims raise considerable concerns. We reproduce these below in italics, and then set out our concerns.

  1. We will ensure that the rights of LGBTQ+ people are recognised and mainstreamed across the public sector in Wales.

that any such campaign is likely to become a campaign for gender self-identification in the public sector by the back door which will result in discrimination against those who stand for sex-based rights, safety, integrity and free speech in the workplace. Claiming a ‘right’ to identify as the opposite sex or gender can only be fulfilled if policies are implemented to force all other staff to lie about who is male or female, and this on pain of facing disciplinary procedures and even losing their jobs.

  1. We will ensure that all public service workers understand LGBTQ+ needs, encouraging comprehensive, intersectional equalities training to be undertaken where necessary.

This requirement is one-sided. The Welsh Government needs to provide training to raise awareness of the needs of detransitioners. They may have serious health problems or disabilities as a result of prior gender reassignment treatments. It would be good to see the Welsh Government commit to listening to detransitioners and to the health professionals who are trying to help them, to ensure that their needs are better met.

The Welsh government should also consider the rights of ex-LGBTQ+ people who are frequently discriminated against.

It is concerning that there is no Welsh Government commitment to provide training on single sex-based rights which are clearly enshrined in law under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.

  1. We will help to challenge heteronormative and cisnormative assumptions and will require public bodies to appropriately identify and record LGBTQ+ identities at the point of access. The needs of LGBTQ+ communities will be made visible in service design and population-level analysis; and we will encourage service design to be co-produced.

There is no good reason to ‘challenge heteronormativity’ as it flows out of the biological fact of sexual difference between men and women, and how this is the basis for human fertility and childbearing. Such a move would be harmful to individuals and society.

Likewise there is no good reason to ‘challenge cisnormative assumptions’. This concept of what is ‘cisnormative’ is a key part of transgender ideology. In advancing it the Welsh Government is forcing institutions to prioritise a theory based on unrealisable fantasies over known biological realities. These demands have the capacity to undermine basic principles of public health, public order, public moral and public security, criteria for respecting rights under the Human Rights Act.

Introducing this transgender terminology attacking human nature at such a basic level would be a gross infringement of free speech and risk ushering in a climate of imposed speech.

Particularly significant here is the case of Rev. Dr. Bernard Randall, a former school chaplain in England, who was referred to Prevent for preaching a sermon advocating that students should think for themselves about issues such as the tenets of gender theory. As Prevent also applies to Wales this is highly relevant.

Will Welsh government require public bodies to identify and record ex-LGBTQ+ identities? How will these people receive equal treatment at the point of access?

We have in mind particularly the need for NHS Wales and Public Health Wales to record and publish data on those who desist from the path of gender transition, and on detransitioners. At present there is no such data. This is a major public health concern.

  1. We will improve data collection, including intersectional data, to identify the discrimination and wellbeing disparities experienced by our LGBTQ+ communities.

Referring back to the concern about the lack of regard for single-sex based rights, it is important to note that this data will only make sense if the biological sex at birth of respondents is recorded.

We would like to know how the Welsh Government proposes to collect data about ex-LGBTQ+ people, in order to better understand issues around their health and wellbeing, as well as measuring discrimination.

Question 3

Do you agree with the proposed actions? What would you add or take away in relation the actions?

We are strongly opposed to certain specific actions, as we explain below.

Action 9. Seek to devolve powers in relation to Gender Recognition and support our Trans community.

There is no good reason to devolve powers of the Gender Recognition Act.

The proposal to devolve aspects of the Gender Recognition Act show a profound disrespect for public opinion which is opposed to gender self-identification, and which has already been respected by the Westminster government. Numerous respondents from Wales conveyed comprehensive concerns to that consultation.

For further reference our response to the UK government’s consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act is available here.

We also responded to the Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons when it conducted an inquiry into the policy.

Action 10. Use all available powers to ban all aspects of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy and seek the devolution of any necessary additional powers.

A ban on ‘conversion therapy’ would undermine basic human rights and Welsh Government responsibilities as well as relations with the UK government

A comprehensive ‘conversion therapy’ ban of the kind that the Welsh Government would like to bring in would violate its obligations to both domestic and international law on human rights. We note that many of the powers required are for reserved matters under Schedule 1 of the Wales Act 2017 (the new Schedule 7A of the Wales Act 2006). These include charity law, employment rights and criminal law.

From the point of view of clients, the rights that would be violated would be sex-based rights, the right to determine one’s sexual orientation, the right to respect for private and family life, freedom of speech, religious freedom and the right to marry. We are also concerned about the harmful effect that any ban would have on Christian clergy, churches, teachers and other staff of educational institutions, medical and healthcare workers including chaplains, and parental and children’s rights. The Equality Impact Assessment admits that the proposal to ban conversion therapy may place faith leaders at risk of prosecution.

A ban on therapy for gender confusion would be particularly harmful for children and teenagers, and people with disabilities. It would be devastating for children with physical disabilities to be in a school for example that allowed teachers and visiting organisations to propagate the lie that a person can be ‘born in the wrong body’.

We have explained at numerous occasions why banning ‘conversion therapy’ would not be a good idea.

A ban on ‘conversion therapy’ would also harm children. Banning ‘conversion therapy’ for children would mean that the mental health profession in Wales would only be allowed to affirm children’s fantasies of being members of the opposite sex. Parents in Wales would not be able to get a responsible therapist or counsellor to help a gender-confused child live as a member of their own sex. Parents would effectively be powerless to stop irresponsible doctors in gender identity clinics from referring their children for puberty-blocking drugs and then cross-sex hormones at the age of 16. Banning ‘conversion therapy’ for children would also make it impossible for children who have developed unwanted same-sex attraction due to sexual abuse or exploitation to get help to move away from it.

Protect single-sex sports

Actions 23-26 relate to sport. Transgender inclusion in sports discriminates against women and girls especially. This is a matter of international controversy as this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games have shown. It is bad sportsmanship, unfair, and there can also be safety concerns with allowing biological males to compete in female-only sports. There would be a negative trickle-down effect into amateur and school sports. Given the importance of sports and exercise for physical and mental health and well-being, this would make this policy a matter of wider public health concern as well.

Particularly relevant here is the report ‘Guidance for Transgender Inclusion in Domestic Sports’, which Sports Wales co-signed. The report takes biological sex differences seriously, saying that ‘for many sports, the inclusion of transgender people, fairness and safety cannot co-exist in a single competitive mode.’ The Welsh Government needs to respect its findings and protect single-sex sports at all levels, particularly in the case of competitive sports. Otherwise many sports will become less fair and less physically safe for women and girls. Given that not everybody is capable of doing different types of sporting activities for maintaining their health, maintaining a wide choice is important from a public health point of view.

Protect museums and the culture sector from inappropriate influences

Action 24. Celebrate the LGBTQ+ communities in Wales by developing our national and local collections, encouraging LGBTQ+ communities to collate and donate collections to local archives and museums, providing funding where appropriate.

Action 24 encourages LGBT activists to donate collections to museums. The question here is whether museums will be free to reject material they consider inappropriate or irrelevant. Museums and other cultural institutions, and their employees, volunteers and visitors, must be free to reject inappropriate and irrelevant material otherwise their freedom of speech and freedom from non-religious philosophical beliefs will be infringed.

There have already been some highly inappropriate museum exhibits and web pages on the National Museum of Wales website due to LGBT activism. The ‘Queer Romans’ blog post on the National Museum Wales website refers to the relationship between the Roman Emperor Hadrian and his ‘lover’ Antinous. In fact Hadrian was 48 when he took the 13-year old Antinous to be his servant. The fact that this blog post normalises such a relationship in the name of gay rights, and is written by the Youth Officer of the National Museum of Wales, tells us about how the LGBT lobby wishes to operate in the Welsh museum sector. It is also relevant that both pagan and Christian authors during the Roman Empire condemned the posthumous cult of Antinous for its immorality. Action 27. Examine how we can provide support to faith groups to create open and accessible environments for LGBTQ+ people, and to promote inter-community dialogue.

This oversteps the Welsh Government’s devolved powers. Religious freedom is a matter reserved for Westminster.

Action 36. Undertake targeted public health work to combat issues where LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately at risk, including substance use, sexual health and mental health.

This is a good and important action. However it would be good to see the evidence base used by the Welsh Government to support this action.

The real problem here is the complete silence of the Welsh Government and NHS Wales regarding the scandal of children and teenagers being referred for gender reassignment in London. The Welsh Government needs to support and defend NHS Wales staff who are trying to help children, teenagers and vulnerable adults overcome gender dysphoria and gender confusion and live as members of their biological sexes. This LGBTQ+ Action Plan, especially the proposed ‘conversion therapy’ ban, would put NHS Wales staff at risk of unfair disciplinary action for helping people live as members of their biological sexes.

Action 37. Continue to ensure that maternity and fertility services are accessible and straightforward to use for LGBTQ+ people.

The wording ‘people’ in relation to maternity services is a problem. The truth is that only women can become pregnant. As Welsh MP Tonia Antoniazzi pointed out recently in the House of Commons debate on the Maternity Bill, all existing UK maternity legislation uses the words ‘mother’ and ‘woman’. This is the correct standard and the Welsh Government should adhere to it.

Action 49. Promote resources to help the families of LGBTQ+ young people, through Parenting. Give it time.

This could infringe on parental rights on how parents want to bring up their children. The insinuation is that children are born LGBTQ+, when in reality there is no scientific evidence for people being born with a homosexual or bisexual sexual orientation or gender confusion. There is a lot of evidence for these things being the result of human interactions.

Action 50. Provide statutory national trans guidance for schools and local authorities.

Trans guidance for schools has been and continues to be the subject of several legal cases in England and Scotland given that it typically erodes single-sex rights that are enshrined in the Equality Act 2010. No trans guidance should be allowed that in practice erodes single-sex rights or other rights such as religious freedom and free speech.

Question 4

What are the key challenges that could stop the aims and actions being achieved?

This question clashes with question 2 on whether respondents agree with the overarching aims of the LGBTQ+ Action Plan. Question 4 wrongly assumes that all respondents will agree with the aims and actions set out in the consultation.

Question 6

Do you feel the LGBTQ+ Action Plan adequately covers the intersection of LGBTQ+ with other protected characteristics, such as race, religion or belief, disability, age, sex, and marriage and civil partnership? If not, how can we improve this?

As indicated above the proposal to ban ‘conversion therapy’ would undermine the individual rights both of people who identify as LGBTQ+ and those who either do not or have ceased to do so but who experience unwanted same-sex attraction and/or gender confusion. It would infringe on people’s right to freedom of religion or belief. Therefore the Welsh Government needs to drop its plans to ban ‘conversion therapy’.

Click here to respond to the consultation.

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