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Bill banning conversion practices will only fully cover under-18s, No 10 says | Sexuality

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The government’s proposed ban on conversion practices intended to change people’s sexuality will in fact only cover those under 18, Downing Street has confirmed, saying it must ‘strike the right balance’ in banning the very practice. condemned.

In a move that appeared at odds with earlier talk of a ban, although officials noted the idea had surfaced in consultation papers, No 10 said adults in England and Wales who consented to gender reassignment for religious or personal reasons would be permitted to do so. This should only be allowed if “it does not cause serious harm”, officials said, with full details to be worked out in the promised conversion therapy bill.

The bill has already been watered down – originally it was also intended to ban similar practices intended to change a person’s approach to their gender identity. This was dropped, to the dismay of equality groups and some MPs.

The government document outlining the Queen’s speech said the law, which targeted ‘heinous conversion therapy practices’, would ‘protect those under 18 in any circumstance, and those over 18 who do not consent not and who are coerced or coerced into undergoing conversion therapy practices”. ”.

Asked if that meant adults could undertake such practices with their consent, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: ‘That’s the deal. Obviously, we will detail all the details when we publish the bill.

When asked why this was the case despite the Prime Minister calling the process “odious”, the spokesman replied: “Obviously this is a difficult area. We have to find the fair balance, but I think it is important to wait until all the details of the bill are worked out. He added: “It is obviously abhorrent to impose this on anyone. But it is an area complex that requires careful management.

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Jayne Ozanne, activist and former government adviser on LGBTQ+ issues, tweeted“Although I am understandably relieved that the government is still committed to banning ‘conversion therapy’, it is very concerning that it is creating so many loopholes and leaving so many people unprotected.

“The government’s own research shows that trans people are twice as likely to be offered ‘conversion therapy’ and it’s a total shame they deliberately omitted them from the ban.”

The Banning Conversion Therapy coalition said there were “two giant loopholes” in the law, in terms of consent, and the lack of provisions for transgender issues.

In a subsequent statement, a Downing Street spokesperson said: ‘Our Bill delivers on our commitment to outlaw harmful conversion therapy practices in this country, to strengthen existing criminal law provisions and to introduce a new offense that protects those under 18, as well as adults who do not consent and are coerced or coerced into the practice.

“This will also include a ban on all physical conversion therapy, regardless of apparent consent.”

The background paper for the Queen’s Speech said the proposed law would introduce a criminal offense “prohibiting non-physical conversion therapies to complement existing legislation which protects people from acts that inflict physical harm”, with d other safeguards such as the potential withdrawal of passports from those at risk. to be taken abroad.

The law would ensure that “parents, clinicians and teachers can continue to have conversations with people seeking help,” according to the guidelines, adding, “The robust, exploratory, and nurturing conversations that are part of regulated care do not fall within the scope of the ban. ”

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