During her annual address to Parliament, Queen Elizabeth II said the British government will seek to ban “conversion therapy” aimed at LGBTQ+ individuals in England and Wales.
“Measures will be brought forward to address racial and ethnic disparities and ban conversion therapy,” the Queen said in her speech on Tuesday.
According to Lizz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, following the Queen’s speech, the British Government “will take legislative steps” to ban the “coercive and abhorrent practice” of conversion therapy.
“Many forms of the practice are already prevented under current legislation, but this new ban will ensure that it is stamped out once and for all,” Truss said. “New funding will also be made available to increase the support available for victims of conversion therapy, the first time a government has offered this in the U.K. This support is expected to be in place by summer.”
Advocates praised the Queen’s announcement as a major step towards protecting British LGBTQ+ people from the wide range of practices that fall under the umbrella of “conversion therapy,” which aims to “cure” any non-cisgendered and/or heterosexual person.
Conversion therapy practices can include anything from so-called ‘talk therapy’ specifically aimed at changing a person’s sexual identity or orientation, to electric shock therapy, hormone regimens, sexual abuse and internment.
Such practices do not work, and tend to be extremely harmful to victims, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2009 report.
For one gay father, conversion therapy widened the disconnect between him and his children after he came out.
In 2018, Jon, a father-of-two from California, came out to his wife and kids. After a messy divorce and becoming estranged from his two teenage sons, Jon endured conversion therapy for almost a decade. He spoke to The Cut about the experience of the so-called “therapy,” which he called “abusive.”
“I ended up in ex-gay therapy at the referral of a pastor at about the age of 37, 38,” Jon said. “I did therapy for about seven and a half, eight years, off and on. And then I participated in and led reparative groups, faith-based ones, for I believe 10 or 11 years in different places. I realize now looking back, how emotionally and spiritually abusive it was.”
Truss said the U.K.’s ban on conversion therapy will be introduced as legislation “as British parliamentary time allows, and following a consultation.” That consultation, she explained, will be to ensure any conversion therapy ban wouldn’t infringe on any religious freedom rights.
“The accompanying consultation will seek further views from the public and key stakeholders to ensure that the ban can address the practice while protecting the medical profession; defending freedom of speech; and upholding religious freedom,” Truss said.
Members of the British government have been pledging to officially outlaw LGBTQ+ conversion therapy for years. Advocates say if Parliament follows through this time, Britain will be one of the big players on the global issue of conversion therapy.
To date, the only countries to enact bans on conversion therapy are Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, Ireland, and Malta, according to the Washington Post.