Thank you for writing to me about conversion therapy and the Westminster Hall debate on this matter on 8th March 2021.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this debate. However, please be assured that I followed proceedings very closely indeed, and am fully aware of the key points raised by the Members who spoke.
You may be interested to read the speeches made in the debate. Please see below a link to Hansard:
Kemi Badenoch MP, Minister for Equalities, closed the debate for the Government, and emphasised the Government’s commitment to ending the practice of conversion therapy.
In her remarks, however, the Minister made clear that the Government does “not intend to stop those who wish to seek spiritual counselling as they explore their sexual orientation”. Please see below an extract from the Minister’s speech:
“The Government have been clear that we do not intend to stop those who wish to seek spiritual counselling as they explore their sexual orientation, but there will be cases when a line is crossed, where someone is actively seeking to change another’s sexual orientation—an innate aspect of their personal identity—via coercion under the guise of spiritual support. The Government will exercise great care when considering what does and does not constitute conversion therapy, and how to intervene. Just because greater care is required, however, it does not mean that we should shy from protecting our most vulnerable from those practices.”
The Minister also stressed the Government will not dictate what classifies as legitimate spiritual guidance:
“We will continue to engage with religious organisations and groups to understand how best support to LGBT people of faith. It is not the place of Government to dictate what is legitimate spiritual guidance, but it is the Government’s place to protect all their citizens, and we will not tolerate the use of harmful coercive practices under the guise of spiritual support.”
I appreciate your strong feelings on this matter, and respect your views and beliefs. Please be assured that I have taken note of your concerns, and will continue to raise said concerns, where appropriate, in discussions with relevant ministerial colleagues. I, personally, would be totally against any legislation or regulation that might impinge on legitimate religious freedoms and the freedom to pray alongside those who share one’s own faith.
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking