Press Release

Christian Concern calls Christians to oppose government’s ‘conversion therapy’ ban

11 November 2021         Issued by: Christian Concern

Christian Concern has called on Christians to oppose the government’s proposals to ban and criminalise so called ‘conversion therapy.’

The government recently announced its plans to bring forward a ban which would see people who help others address their unwanted same-sex feelings and gender confusion at risk of being criminalised.

The consultation, which closes on 10 December, outlines proposals that would also see under-18-year-olds unable to consent to so-called ‘conversion therapy’.

Furthermore, a parent who challenges a child’s sexual identity or gender identity could be deemed to be engaging in ‘conversion therapy.’

This means that parents and others who advocate Biblical sexual morality to young people would risk being fined or prosecuted.

‘Conversion therapy’ is a vague term, used by no one who is accused of practising it. Generally speaking, it means attempting to change someone’s sexual attraction or gender identity, but the government’s proposals contain no clear definition.

Flawed research

In its guide to the consultation, Christian Concern highlights several problems with the government’s proposals; first that the government’s research supporting its consultation is deeply flawed. Properly understood, the relevant research does not support the idea that ordinary counselling and therapy to move away from same-sex feelings causes anyone harm. In fact, there are indications that these talking therapies improve overall mental health, even if they don’t always directly affect someone’s feelings.

Studies demonstrating this, along with the testimonies of ex-gay people who say they’ve benefited from this kind of support, have been brushed aside in the research accompanying the consultation. Christian Concern will seek to provide more analysis on this point in the coming weeks.

Help for under-18s banned

The government is also saying that under-18s are unable to consent to talking ‘conversion therapy’.

For example, this means that a 16-year-old boy who wants help to address his same-sex feelings is ruled out from being able to access help from an expert. Similarly, a 14-year-old girl who struggles with gender dysphoria would be prevented from accessing help to live in her God-given female body.

Even though the ban appears to affect all sides of the debate equally, Christian Concern argues that in reality this would very likely only be policed in one direction – people advocating Christian ethics would be punished, while people advocating for transgenderism or alternative sexualities (like Mermaids or LGBTQ+ networks) would be unhindered.

Unclear safeguards

The government proposals also claim that “talking conversion therapy could not be reasonably understood to include communication such as casual conversations, exchanges of views, private prayer or pure speech acts.”

However, the leading campaigners for a ban have labelled all these activities ‘conversion therapy’ or ‘conversion practices’. There is deep concern already from hundreds of church leaders and Christians as to how any legislation can truly safeguard sermons, debates and prayer ministries.

Furthermore, there are extensive questions on how parents who refuse to accept that their child is trans and consistently affirm his or her real identity will be viewed under proposals. There are no clues in the government’s consultation as to how ordinary Christian parenting will not be under fire from a ban.

Loving our neighbour

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern said:

“We call on Christians, church leaders and members of the public to urgently respond to this consultation to ensure that people remain free to live out their Christian faith in the areas of sex and gender.

“These chilling proposals will criminalise Christian parents who refuse to accept that their child is trans and consistently affirm his or her real identity.

“The voices, and even existence, of ex-gay people who say they’ve benefited from support have been brushed aside in the skewed research accompanying the consultation. This must be challenged.

“The government will continue to come under relentless pressure from LGBTQ+ campaign groups which want them to crack down harder on legitimate Christian practices including prayer, support groups and counselling.

“It’s not loving our neighbour simply to speak up for the freedoms we care most about while allowing the government to criminalise consensual conversations with a counsellor or therapist.

“We will continue to stand against the scare tactics of those who ultimately want to enshrine LGBT ideology in our laws and in the Church.”

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