Conversion therapy consultation extended following legal action threat

9 December 2021

The government has today extended its consultation period over its plans to ban ‘conversion therapy’ by eight weeks.

The consultation was due to last only six weeks, ending tomorrow, 10 December. But following much criticism of both the consultation and the plans, the government agreed to extend the deadline for responses until 4 February. This throws its timetable for a ban into the air, the Equalities Minister Elizabeth Truss having previously suggested the government would bring legislation forward in Spring 2022.

Criticism of short consultation period

The change comes shortly after suggestions that Fair Play for Women, a gender-critical organisation, said it would pursue judicial review over the short time period given for responses. Director Nicola Williams told the Times, “Without this concession many people would not have had their views heard, and an important group they needed to hear from — autistic young people and their parents — would have been excluded.” Maya Forstater of Sex Matters had previously raised concerns that the easy read version of the consultation was released with only two weeks of the consultation period left and that it revealed that teachers would be affected by the ban – even though the full consultation did not make that statement.

Criticism from church leaders

The extension also coming shortly after over a thousand church leaders highlighted significant concerns with the government’s proposals. Announcing the extension, the government attempted to allay these fears claiming under the heading ‘key facts’: “Casual conversations and supportive conversations which do not pressure someone down one path or another, will not be in scope of our proposed legislation. Our legislation will not affect parents’ ability to raise their children with the values of their faith. Simply expressing the teachings of a religion or private prayer, will not constitute conversion therapy in our proposals – and we will continue to work with faith groups on the proposals.”

This is not the first time these promises have been made, but nothing in the proposals demonstrates how legitimate consensual support, aimed at helping someone live according to God’s design for sex and gender, will not be a target of the ban – particularly for under-18s.

Still time to respond

The extension means that there is more time to say no to the government’s ill-conceived ‘conversion therapy’ ban. You can find more on our resource page to help you understand why the government’s proposal should be opposed in its entirety.

Please also share our video (below) with your church and encourage them to use these extra eight weeks well to clearly explain their concerns about the ban.

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