Lords decry conversion therapy bill in debate

9 February 2024

This morning saw Lords debate the bill to ban conversion therapy in the House of Lords. There have been outright objections for many reasons, not least its criminalising free speech and normal everyday behaviours. We must be vocal against ‘conversion therapy’ bans.

Lord Forsyth said the bill “brings great discredit on this house and Parliament as a whole”. He emphasised the parent’s basic role of guiding their child in good faith and biological truth, which is jeopardised by the problematic language and motivation of the bill.


“So parents saying to their children you must not take puberty blockers would find themselves on the wrong side of the law – this is an extraordinary suggestion. Trying to prevent surgery or medical interventions which would be irreversible – is that ‘any practice’?

“I read the language of the bill; it says ‘any practice aimed at a person which demonstrates an assumption’. Are we now going to criminalise people for thinking things? Because that’s what ‘demonstrates an assumption’ means.”

‘Socially divisive and unnecessary’

Lord Jackson reiterated that a ban on ‘conversion therapy’ is the last thing we need, since every act that constitutes abuse is already being outlawed. Taking cues from nations that have had catastrophic effects from banning conversion therapy, he reckons “the [Swedish] government may do the sensible thing and drop the plan”.


“My lords, this bill as currently drafted is a dangerous attack on civil liberties, on religious freedom, and on parental and wider human rights. It is socially divisive and unnecessary. Noble Lords must at the very least amend it and preferably reject it.

“Stonewall have calculated that a new conversion therapy law is their best shot at silencing dissent. They have realised that a law which prohibits people from suppressing trans identities is effectively self-ID.

“If a gay or trans person goes to a therapist or a church and they really do feel they’ve been abused, they should report it to the police. If what they heard then breaches that law, the CPS can prosecute. But of course if it doesn’t breach the existing law, it means that whatever was said to them was not abusive.

They might have an unpleasant experience but you can’t criminalise unpleasantness. People have choice and they have agency.”

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