In 2019, both the Tories in England and the SNP in Scotland formally pledged to ban conversion therapy. In 2023, both the Tories in England and the SNP in Scotland said that their bans would be introduced this year. This week, both the Tories in England and the SNP in Scotland decided they were no longer going to ban conversion therapy. Officially that’s just for this year, but realistically it’s never.
The reason, inevitably, is the unholy alliance of anti-trans bigots, religious lobbyists and the right-wing press, a Venn diagram that’s close to a single circle. The claim is that a ban is too complex, that it would criminalise legitimate psychological help, or that it would criminalise the wrong people. But the facts haven’t changed, and the facts are that such bans have been introduced all over the world without any problems. As we’ve discovered in countries such as Canada, Brazil, Spain, Germany, France, Malta and New Zealand, you can avoid being prosecuted for torturing children by simply not torturing children.
And make no mistake, conversion therapy is torture: the UN described it as such in 2020, calling for a global end to the cruel and hideous practice. Amnesty International agrees. Conversion therapy is a breach of people’s basic human rights – specifically, article 5 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The only psychologists and psychiatrists that support it are quacks: the practice has been condemned by both the British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, as well as medical bodies worldwide.
There’s no debate here; you’re either in favour of torturing children or you aren’t. Seeing politicians cave to the pro-torture camp is as despicable as it is predictable.