Why challenge a ban on ‘conversion therapy’?

12 November 2021

Christian Concern’s chief executive, Andrea Williams, urges you to stand with us to protect the freedom to seek help for unwanted sexual attractions and behaviours, by responding to the government’s consultation on banning so-called ‘conversion therapy’.

I need your help today to ensure that people remain free to live out their Christian faith in the areas of sex and gender.

The government recently announced its plans to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’. People who help others address their unwanted same-sex feelings and gender confusion are at threat of being criminalised.

You may have heard that campaigners are seeking to criminalise prayer – this is true. But the problems with the government’s proposals are much wider than that. It’s not loving our neighbour simply to speak up for the freedoms we care most about (e.g. prayer and pastoral support) while allowing the government to criminalise consensual conversations with a counsellor or therapist.

We’ve stood time after time for the freedom for anyone to access this kind of help against the scare tactics of those who ultimately want to enshrine LGBT ideology in our laws and in the Church.

Now will you stand with us?

Let me explain how…

The big picture

As it happens, the government’s proposals are better than they might have been.

‘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.

It’s worth noting this applies to both sex and gender and in all directions. The consultation states:

“The proposed protections are universal: an attempt to change a person from being attracted to the same-sex to being attracted to the opposite-sex, or from not being transgender to being transgender, will be treated in the same way as the reverse scenario.”

The government sees no need for a new ban on physical ‘conversion therapies’ – these are already covered by other offences and in any case, not known to be practised in the UK.

It does want to ban talking therapies in situations it deems coercive. But it does allow existing talking therapies to continue for consenting adults. This is a major concession – particularly since this allows a ministry like Core Issues Trust to continue its work.

This is the result of years of hard work, explaining the many reasons why banning consensual conversations is unthinkable.

Read our guide on how to respond.

Respond to the consultation now. The deadline to respond is 10 December 2021.

Problem 1 – the evidence is flawed

The whole concept of a ban is flawed. LGBTQ+ campaigners have invented a straw man idea of what ‘conversion therapy’ is, claimed that it does great harm and relentlessly pressured the government into banning it.

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 and must be challenged.

Problem 2 – help for under-18s banned

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

This means that a 16-year-old boy who wants help to address same-sex feelings is ruled out from being able to access help from an expert. It means that a 14-year-old girl who struggles with gender dysphoria can’t access help to live in her God-given female body.

Even if the ban appears equal on paper, in reality this would very likely only be policed in one direction – people advocating Christian ethics will be punished, while people advocating for transgenderism or alternative sexualities (like Mermaids or LGBTQ+ networks) will be unhindered.

Problem 3 – the safeguards are unclear

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’. How will any legislation truly safeguard sermons, talks, lectures, debates and prayer ministries?

Most worryingly, what about parents who refuse to accept that their child is trans and consistently affirm his or her real identity? There are no clues in the government’s proposals as to how ordinary Christian parenting will not be under fire from a ban.

Problem 4 – LGBTQ+ campaigners will not settle for the government’s proposals

Even if the government’s existing proposals were all fine (in fact, there are many more problems), it will be under relentless pressure from LGBTQ+ campaign groups to crack down harder on legitimate Christian practices including prayer, support groups and counselling.

It’s vital that Christians who value God’s design for sex and gender to speak clearly and oppose these efforts to oppress Christian teaching and practice.

We will provide much more information about how to do so in the coming weeks. But you can help right now by responding to the government’s consultation and sharing your concerns.

We’ve produced a guide to help you outline in detail many of the problems with the proposal.

Please read the guide and respond to the consultation.

The continued freedom to live holy lives as a Christian in the UK is under threat.

“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
(1 Cor 6:9-11 ESV, emphasis added)

Read our guide on how to respond.

Respond to the consultation now. The deadline to respond is 10 December 2021.

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