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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Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) (Lab/Co-op) [V]
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It is easily done, Mr Gray; please do not worry.

I am honoured to be able to take part in this incredibly important and powerful debate, which clearly has cross-party support. I start by paying tribute to the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Elliot Colburn) for the way he introduced the debate and, in particular, for centring the survivors of conversion therapy in his remarks. It is incredibly important in a debate like this to remember those whose voices may not yet be heard in this place, but for whom we need to speak.

I also pay tribute to the journalist Patrick Strudwick and to Vicky Beeching, who have done amazing work uncovering and talking about their own personal experiences, bringing to the fore an understanding of how toxic this treatment is. To everyone who has spoken so far and given their personal experience: that is what Parliament at its best does.

Like previous speakers, I want to take on some of the arguments about why conversion therapy should be made illegal. There has been a lot of focus on whether it works, as if there are any conditions in which such a therapy would be acceptable if it could be shown to be ethical. Many of the major bodies for psychotherapy in the UK have outlawed the practice and said that there is no semblance of an evidence base behind it. However, I believe that we have to make it illegal, to send the clear message that it is not about whether homosexuality is a pathology, because it is not. It is not about whether being trans is a pathology, because it is not. It is a part of who someone is. We in this place need to send the clear message that we will not see the behaviour in question indulged. We will not see the question as one of medical ethics, but as about a progressive, inclusive society that bans practices that demean, belittle and discriminate against people.

Where young people who are gay, lesbian, transgender or bi grow up in communities where they are not supported, they are eight times more likely to have attempted suicide, six times more likely to report depression and three times more likely to use illegal drugs. There are consequences of living in a society where what I am talking about is even a debate, in many different communities, but we know it is a live debate. Right now there are websites where people can go to book conversion therapy, and it is talked about as a matter of free speech. Let us put the argument to bed today. It is not a matter of free speech to cause someone harm in the way that conversion therapy does.

It is also claimed that the matter is about a conflict with spirituality. There is no conflict with spirituality. I will not give a platform to the organisations that can be found, but I want to give a platform to the House of Rainbow and the Reverend Jide Macaulay, who is a proud member of the local community in Walthamstow and our local faith communities too. He teaches every single day that God loves you, not that God cares about who you love. Those are the organisations that we should be supporting. But we also need to send a clear message that it is not just about the medical side; it is simply about living in a better society. We want to outlaw the practice, to protect people from the harm and damage that it does.

We know that it is possible to do that. Frankly, when countries such as China, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Malta and even Samoa have a ban, we could have one in the UK, and quickly. As the debate shows, there is cross-party consensus for it, so I urge the Minister to use the energy from the debate and the support across civil society for action and not to delay further. Let us make Britain proud to be a world leader, for once, on some of those issues, rather than following the pack. Let us tell everyone in the community that we love them not for who they love but for who they are.