LGBT Conversion Therapy Debate

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Department: HM Treasury
Monday 8th March 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Westminster Hall
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Mark Fletcher Portrait Mark Fletcher (Bolsover) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I declare a brief interest, in that my husband works for a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charity that works in schools. The hon. Member for Wallasey (Dame Angela Eagle) touched on the fact that society has come a long way. Some of that has been law led and some of it has been developments over time. Ultimately, the discussions around conversion therapy are really about acknowledging who we are—not who we want to be, not who society wants us to be, not who our parents or friends want us to be, but who we are as individuals.

To be different is still difficult. So many things have changed and society has improved, but we still live with tremendous pressures upon individuals, who still feel the need to deny who they are. One of the difficulties that I have had in listening to an amazing array of speeches from people from all parties—this is a cross-party issue and debate—is that we want to solve everything, and to say to every person in this country, “You can be who you want to be, and you can be proud and happy.”

We cannot do that as lawmakers because only so many things are under our control. However, one thing that we can do, and there is clear consensus to do it within this room and among all the people on all these wonderful screens in front of us, is to take a step in the right direction and end this “abhorrent” practice—not my words but the words of the Prime Minister—for which there is no medical justification. The hon. Member for Wallasey said it is medieval, and that term is absolutely right.

I stand here as someone who is openly gay and who came out at a comprehensive school in Doncaster. I am not religious, but I did not have the best experience with coming out, which I am sure many people can relate to. I want to say to all the boys and girls who know that they are a little bit different, whether they are gay or whether they think that something is just not quite right, that we have your backs. We will continue to push for this ban and we will continue to try to make your lives a little bit better.

In my last 30 seconds, I will just say one thing to the online LBGT community who have looked today and said, “Why should there be a debate? We should just crack on and end conversion therapy.” I understand their argument, but I question that arrogance, because there is always a need to win the argument, and there is always a need to keep advancing and making sure that the things that we do here and elsewhere are led by the best arguments, and that we continue to fight that fight.

James Gray Portrait James Gray (in the Chair)
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We have three more Back Benchers to speak and five minutes left.