We welcome this legal opinion from Jeremy Hyam QC on the government’s proposed legislative ban on conversion therapy and thank Transgender Trend and Keira Bell for sharing it.
We believe that children with gender dysphoria deserve appropriate and evidence-based treatment and that those young people and their families need to be free to seek it. Professionals should be able to support those children and their families without fear of acting illegally. We agree that ‘gender identity’ needs to be removed from draft legislation as it’s an ill-defined and highly contested concept and does not have children’s well-being at its heart.
We welcome the statement that “There is a justifiable concern that the motivation for the inclusion of ‘gender identity’ … is grounded in a political viewpoint of gender identity not on scientific evidence of harm caused by such therapy”. The conversion therapy bill in its current state risks criminalising parents who don’t believe that unquestioningly agreeing with their child’s ‘gender identity’ is in the child’s best interests.
Safeguarding and supporting children needs to be put back at the heart of legislation. The political motivations of lobby groups should have no place here.
We endorse the ‘Scoping Survey’ on the proposed ban on conversion therapy in the UK from the Thoughtful Therapists group. This group have surveyed the relevant documents, policies and practices currently in force in a number of countries and made recommendations with regard to the UK government’s proposals. They are concerned that a ban on exploratory therapy for gender dysphoria could be detrimental to both therapists and clients, because the alternative, affirmation-only approach does not allow scope to explore other causes for gender dysphoria.
3 thoughts on “Conversion Therapy: our view”
The Hyam opinion is very useful.
The consultation paper is a contentious document, driven by a political viewpoint on a highly contested topic.
The proposals are muddled and incoherent. Their scope is ill-defined and excessively wide.
The paper uses emotive language ‘coercive’ ‘abhorrent’ ‘sinister’ seemingly to conceal the wide ambit of the proposals way beyond those terms and to silence debate on them.
The proposals would catch all sorts of discussion about gender identity. As such they would have a chilling effect on free speech, whether it was conducted by medical professionals, teachers, religious people, or even parents or onlookers.
No ‘therapy’ as such is required. Nor is any ‘conversion’ required: indeed the paper accepts that people cannot be ‘converted’ by others so it widens its scope beyond conversion.
The paper tosses around the term ‘coercion’ but then proposes to dilute its legal meaning so as to catch any form of discussion where the fullest prior consent had not been given.
As the Hyam opinion notes, the proposals would conflict with numerous human rights – the right to family life, freedom of speech, religion and education. No evidence is adduced to show why it is necessary at all or a proportionate response.
It is essential that the strongest possible response is made against the proposals.