Poll shows ‘conversion therapy’ ban not a priority

14 September 2023

A ban on conversion therapy is not on voters’ agenda, according to a new poll commissioned by the Christian Institute.

Released today, the research shows that only 4% of voters prioritise a ban on ‘conversion therapy’, also known as ‘conversion practices’.

Over 2,000 people were asked to list their top 5 policy priorities out of 23 possible options. The proposed ‘conversion therapy ban came second-to-last in popularity.

‘Conversion therapy’ and ‘conversion practices’ are terms invented by LGBTQ+ campaigners to smear ordinary therapy and Christian pastoral care as dangerous and unethical.

Conversion therapy ban is also unpopular

It is not the only recent poll to show that a ban does not have the backing of the public. In May, Christian Concern commissioned a survey of over 2,000 people, asking if they supported a ban. Three quarters of the UK public believed that individuals struggling with sexual or gender identity issues should be free to seek help through talking therapy.

Together, the polls paint a clear picture. A ban is not only an unpopular policy, but even among its supporters is low priority.

A ban primarily targets Christians

In the UK, support for people who do not want to live in a homosexual or transgender lifestyle is typically provided by Christians. The main group known for providing therapeutic help is Core Issues Trust, a Christian charity that supports “those leaving LGBT identities, behaviours, attractions and life choices”. They advocate SAFE-T, an umbrella term for responsible change-allowing talking therapies, pointing to ample peer-reviewed evidence that their interventions are effective and safe.

In addition to this, many churches and other Christian ministries seek to support people with unwanted same-sex attraction pastorally: through ordinary conversations, prayer and voluntary support groups.

A totally unnecessary ban

Advocates for a ‘conversion therapy’ ban claim that any attempt to shape your own sexuality or gender expression are harmful. But the evidence they cite is cherry picked and deeply flawed.

Often, wildly different approaches for seeking change are lumped together as if they are equivalent. This would be like writing off chemotherapy because essential oils are ineffective at treating cancer.

Studies that follow the outcomes of specific approaches, such as Reintegrative Therapy, show positive outcomes, with some people experiencing the change they desire and an improvement in overall well-being.

It is common, even in the studies cited by those calling for a ban (which often suffer from selection bias), to find that even those who didn’t experience the change they sought had positive experiences.

Patricia Morgan’s book Banning Conversion Therapy explains in detail the story of how the government committed to a foolish ban and how well-known, high quality evidence is being ignored in the public debate.

An assault on free speech

There is no evidence that anyone in the UK offers violent, coercive, physical practices aimed at changing someone’s sexuality or gender identity. A bogeyman has been created by LGBTQ+ campaigners for their ideological purposes – often linked with changing the Church’s teaching.

Even if dangerous physical interventions were being practised in the UK, as the government has pointed out, they would already be illegal. A law only targets ‘talking conversion therapy’, which is simply code for ordinary, consensual conversations.

As such, a ban would breach human rights legislation, as Roger Kiska persuasively argued in his legal opinion.

The Conservative Party is deciding its legislative agenda for its remaining time in government. As it does so, and as the other parties decide their policy platforms for the next election, they would do well to listen to the evidence, and voters, that a ‘conversion therapy’ ban would be completely unnecessary and undesirable.

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