The UK Government's failure to deliver a ban on conversion practices after five years of promises is an act of frightful negligence - in doing so, it has given the green light for the abuse against LGBTQ+ people to continue unchecked.
Rather than getting mired in a cynical cultural war, the UK Government should be making decisions based on what the evidence and expertise said. England and Wales' 1.5 million LGBTQ+ people, and their families, deserve better.
Read the full statement from Cat Dixon, Stonewall Chair:
'We are deeply disappointed to see that legislation to ban conversion practices has been dropped from the King’s Speech. This was the final opportunity for this UK Government to protect LGBTQ+ people from the abuse and torture that has afflicted generations of LGBTQ+ people in the UK and which continues to this day.
Protections were first promised in Prime Minister Theresa May, and by every subsequent Prime Minister including Rishi Sunak. We saw legislation pledged in both the 2021 and 2022 Queen’s Speech, so the abandonment of promised laws now is an abject failure to protect for the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Banning conversion therapy is backed by the entire medical establishment, faith leaders from all communities, including the Church of England, and the British public (including 60% of 2019 Conservative voters). There is even overwhelming support across all political parties, so the question remains, why did the UK Government decide that LGBTQ+ people no longer deserve protection?
The LGBTQ+ community is left questioning whether promises and commitments from recent Prime Ministers mean anything; whether the institutions that are supposed to protect vulnerable people from harm deserve our trust. We know the wider public care about LGBTQ+ people as their family, friends, neighbours and colleagues, will, no doubt, also question whether we can trust our Government to do what they say they will do.
It is no surprise that the UK has slipped from number one to number 17 in the top countries for LGBTQ+ rights in the ILGA Europe rankings in just a few years. And despite some welcome steps, including an apology to LGBTQ+ veterans who suffered under the UK’s criminalisation of members of the armed forces. It is often said that society should be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable members. If that is applied to this Government it as singly failed and the British public, who are supportive of equality and fairness, will judge this failure to protect vulnerable LGBTQ+ people and do the right thing, accordingly.
We would invite the Government to reflect on why it has not had the courage to honour its promise despite such widespread support. Conservative governments introduced Same-Sex Marriage, LGBTQ+ inclusive education and evacuated LGBTQ+ Afghans, and made PrEP available on the NHS. However, broken promises and rhetoric which serves to deprive those most vulnerable in our society of dignity may be what voters have front of mind today.
As political parties look towards a General Election in 2024, they should be thinking about how they can ensure the UK is once again world-leading by championing the rights of the most vulnerable LGBTQ+ people and ensuring that our whole community is treated with respect, dignity and equality. We need a serious plan to get the UK back on track, and political commitments to take us there.'