Government must abandon conversion therapy altogether, says PDA

Health & NHS

Government must abandon conversion therapy altogether, says PDA

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association’s LGBT+ Network has said a government consultation on proposals to ban conversion therapy has not gone far enough and urged ministers to abandon plans allowing adults to consent to the practice.

In the public consultation, which has been extended until February 4, the government’s equalities office outlined its determination to halt the therapy for under-18s and those over 18 who have not consented with the introduction of a new criminal offence.

It recommended a series of other measures to reinforce the ban including conversion therapy protection orders, a restriction on the promotion of the therapies, removal of prof streams and disqualification of anyone involved in the practice from holding a senior role in a charity.

However, it was the government’s desire for “robust and stringent” consent requirements for adults wanting talking therapy that has generated unease within the PDA LGBT+ Network. In its response to the consultation, it said consent should be removed and called for conversion therapy to “be banned without exception.”

“The network urges the government to abandon its proposal to allow adults to consent to conversion therapy and feels it is flawed to suggest that a person can give their informed consent to an ineffective and harmful practice built upon an exploitative power dynamic,” it said.

PDA LGBT+ Network president Scott Rutherford was critical of the government’s proposal for a “symmetrical” and “universal” prohibition on any attempt to convert a heterosexual person or a person whose sense of identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex with an LGBT+ identity.

He warned a “symmetrical” ban was “not based on evidence and risks harming the people that this legislation ought to protect,” comparing it to the reviled Section 28 law introduced by the Thatcher government in 1988 that prohibited the promotion of homosexuality.

“The rebirth of this principle would be a disaster,” he said.

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