LGBT Conversion Therapy Debate

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Department: HM Treasury
Monday 8th March 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Alyn Smith Portrait Alyn Smith (Stirling) (SNP) [V]
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray, and I can be brief.

I called for this debate back in September and am glad to see it tonight. I am also glad to see so many passionate and thoughtful contributions from all points of the compass across the House. This is an issue that we need to act on, and I praise the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Elliot Colburn) for his excellent speech. I have to say that the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns) made a very strong contribution—it is good the see her back, and she has demonstrated why it is good to see her back. She has done a power of work on this issue, and it is great that there is such a cross-party consensus on it.

I will confess that I am a gay man, but I am happy to say that I have no direct experience of this issue. Frankly, the scale of the problem was news to me. According to the UK Government’s 2018 LGBT survey, 5% of respondents had been offered conversion therapy and 2% had undergone it in one shape or another. In the trans community, the figures were even higher: 9% had been offered it and 4% had undergone it. There is much to agree with in the discussion tonight, but it boils down to one phrase: let’s get on with it. I say that as a challenge to the Minister while offering my support for her efforts.

There is a cross-party need for legislation. There is work to be done, of course, but work is well advanced on the proposals for a legislative framework. The NGOs are behind it, the equalities community is behind it and the faith groups are behind it. There is cross-party support. The Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Senedd and many people in Northern Ireland are supportive of this legislation, and we need to get it done. The only people who are speaking in defence of conversion therapy are quacks, bigots and bullies. They need to be called out for what they are, and their dreadful activities and consequences criminalised. If the UK Government are serious about bringing forward legislation, they will have my support, and I look forward to hearing some good news from the Minister tonight.