UK Health Secretary defends excluding trans people from 'conversion' therapy ban

The decision to exclude trans people from a 'conversion' therapy ban has been met with fierce backlash.


Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki

The UK's Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has defended the government's exclusion of trans people from a ban on 'conversion' therapy, saying it is the "sensitive approach" to take. 

It comes amid a backlash against the government following a leak that plans for 'conversion' therapy were being dropped before they were hastily picked up but the decision was made to exclude trans people.

Following this, more than 100 LGBTQ organisations, including Stonewall, announced they were boycotting the government's global LGBTQ conference, 'Safe To be Me' which was cancelled yesterday (Tuesday 5 April)

"We do need to be more careful"

Asked by Sky News' Kay Burley whether he thinks it is right for people to be subjected to electric shocks as part of the abhorrent and medically debunked practice, Mr. Javid said he didn't.

Pressed on why then trans people were being excluded from the government's new ban he told Burley: "We do need to be more careful". 

He references a recent report by the paediatrician Dr. Hilary Cass, who thinks it is right for medical experts to question people when they come forward claiming to have gender dysphoria and to determine if that really is the case. 

"Or could it be that that individual is suffering from some child sex abuse, for example, or could it be linked to bullying?" Mr. Javid continued. 

The Cass review did recommend expanding trans service so there isn't just one clinic at the Tavistock in London, but was also met with criticism, including by Jo Maugham of The Good Law Project, for dodging some issues such as consent when it comes to the use of puberty blockers. 

Javid continued: "So, I think it is right to take the approach that we have which is to ban conversion therapy for LGB [people] but to take a much more sort of sensitive approach when it comes to trans."

Following the backlash of its moves, the government put out a statement on Monday (4 April) saying it will carry out "separate work" on trans 'conversion' therapy with the aim of avoiding "unintended consequences" coming into legislation, especially for under-18s. 

The government's position has led to the resignation of its LGBT Business Champion, Iain Anderson, who said in his resignation letter: "Trust and belief in the Government's overall commitment to LGBT+ rights has been damaged."

Conservative MPs are among those who have voiced their anger at the government, including Jamie Wallis, who became the first trans-UK MP. He said: "If the CT ban passes through parliament without any protections for the transgender community, it cannot be described as anything other than a broken promise."

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