Campaigns | Conversion therapy
Criminalising a vaguely defined practice of “gender identity conversion therapy” would make it harder to provide responsive, precautionary care.
A campaign to ban “conversion therapy” came out of nowhere to dominate the priorities of organisations such as Stonewall and Mermaids, and prompt protests and petitions.
But when you ask what people actually mean by “conversion therapy”, you get very different answers. And when you look for evidence that there is a problem in the UK, it is remarkably thin. The demand for a ban seems to have made it from the margins to the mainstream without any evidence.
Sex Matters has investigated the history of the conversion-therapy campaign, and continues to lobby for a better understanding of the issues involved.
Converting minds or bodies?
A riposte to the Good Law Project’s published advice on conversion therapy
16th August 2022
What is conversion therapy?
Stella O’Malley of Genspect explains… “Gay conversion therapy” is the term given to attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. This includes demeaning and painful practices such as electric shocks, forced watching of pornography and, in extreme cases, “corrective rape”. Such abhorrent practices are now...
15th June 2022
Sex Matters briefing for conversion therapy debate
On Monday 13th June there will be a Westminster Hall debate on introducing “gender identity” into the planned government bill to ban gay conversion therapy. This is a debate following a public petition. It is not a government motion, but a government Minister will respond. This is Sex Matters’...
11th June 2022
“Conversion” therapy or just therapy?
On 23rd May 2022 an article appeared in the i news stating that Dr Az Hakeem was under investigation for attempting to “practise transgender conversion therapy”. Dr Az Hakeem is a psychiatrist now in private practice after more than 15 years working in the NHS. He is Fellow of...
8th June 2022
Reading University VC speaks up for academic freedom
On 25 April 2022 Dr Holly Lawford-Smith, of the University of Melbourne, gave a seminar at Reading University’s school of law. She analysed Australia’s recent legislation banning conversion therapy, and questioned the rationale for including gender identity alongside sexual orientation. “We champion freedom of expression but…” When local LGBTQ+ organisations learnt...
23rd May 2022
Has your MP fallen for a simple slogan?
Was your MP one of the ones who posed with a sign about banning conversion therapy? It is worth writing to them urgently. Make sure they hear the other side. Use our form to send them Dr Hilary Cass’s interim report and Sex Matters’ report on the “Ban Conversion...
16th May 2022
No ban on talk therapy for gender-distressed children in Queen’s Speech
It has been confirmed in the Queen’s Speech that the government intends to pursue a limited ban on “conversion therapy” aimed at practices intended to change sexual orientation but not to include in this therapy to resolve gender distress. But the “ban” campaign continues to promote simplistic slogans about...
11th May 2022
What is behind the campaign to ban conversion therapy?
The campaign to ban “conversion therapy” has come out of nowhere, to suddenly dominate the priorities of organisations such as Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence, Mermaids, GIRES and the LGBT Foundation. There have been protests and petitions, and these groups pulled out of a planned international conference on human rights when...
4th May 2022
Sex Matters’ statement on conversion therapy law
Sex Matter praises decision to abandon fatally flawed “Conversion Therapy Bill”.
31st March 2022
The Cass Review’s interim report is out
The report shares initial conclusions that reflect many of the concerns raised by Sex Matters.
12th March 2022
Responses to the government consultation on banning conversion therapy
The government's consultation on conversion therapy has now closed, and the responses are being analysed. More than a thousand people used the form on our website to send the government their own responses to the consultation.
11th February 2022
It’s not too late to talk to your MP!
Sex Matters supporters have been speaking to their MPs about the proposed legislation on conversion therapy. Their reports from face-to-face and telephone meetings highlight the need for a proper review of the proposals. Supporters who have managed to speak to their MPs tell us that some have been surprised...
2nd February 2022
Organisations unite to praise the EHRC
Twenty different campaigning groups from across the UK have come together in a statement of response on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s recent communications – with the UK Government about conversion therapy and with the Scottish Government about reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The EHRC has come...
31st January 2022
The EHRC steps up
Sex Matters welcomes its statements on Gender Recognition Act reform and conversion therapy.
26th January 2022
Myths and truths on conversion therapy
Equalities Minister Mike Freer says that he wants to “bust myths” about the government‘s plan to ban conversion therapy. The good news is that he says that he wants to take care to get the legislation right: “This Government has no intention to stop parents, clinicians, teachers, or anyone...
21st January 2022
Opposing the return of gay conversion therapy: a lawyer’s view
On 16 November 2021, writes Sex Matters Chair Naomi Cunningham, I gave a talk at the Middle Temple LGBTQ+ Forum’s inaugural annual dinner, to an audience of barristers and Bar students, and their guests. Middle Temple is one of the four ancient Inns of Court: aspiring barristers must join...
16th January 2022
Conversion therapy: take action
The government’s plan to “ban gender identity conversion therapy” is ill-considered. It will: threaten parents, teachers, therapists and youth workers with prosecution if they do not affirm that a child is “born in the wrong body” make it harder for children experiencing gender issues to access supportive, exploratory mental health...
5th January 2022
Conversion therapy consultation extended!
We asked you to tell your MP to #presspause on the conversion therapy consultation. Thousands of you did, they listened, and we’ve got what was needed: an extension of eight weeks. The next step is to get as many people as possible to respond to the consultation and we...
9th December 2021
Where is the easy reading version of the conversion therapy consultation?
With just three days to go on the consultation on banning “conversion therapy” there is still no sign of the promised “easy reading” version of the consultation document which was promised to “follow shortly” six weeks ago. This is a consultation which is particularly relevant to people with learning...
7th December 2021
Conversion therapy: calling for legislation without evidence
Last week at an event at Middle Temple, Sex Matters Chair Naomi Cunningham highlighted the lack of evidence for harm from “gender identity conversion therapy” (a broad and undefined term being used to promote rushed legislation). Jayne Ozanne, the chief promoter of this proposed legislation, called this “offensive and...
22nd November 2021
Have you emailed your MP ?
Nearly 2,000 people have emailed their MP to say #presspause on #conversion therapy ban Here are the ones with the biggest postbags so far. Numbers count, so keep sending Lucas, Caroline 39 Kyle, Peter 18 Zeichner, Daniel 18 Starmer, Keir 17 West, Catherine 15 Eshalomi, Florence 15 Heald, Oliver...
19th November 2021
Conversion therapy update
1500 people have already used our 2 minute form to write to their MPs asking them to #presspause on the government’s conversion therapy consultation. Many people have written that it’s the first time they’ve contacted their elected representative about anything and hundreds have shared deeply personal reasons for their...
17th November 2021
Press pause on conversion therapy law
The Government is consulting on its proposal to introduce a new law banning “conversion therapy”. They are aiming to introduce a Bill to parliament in time to celebrate this as an achievement at their “Safe To Be Me: Global Equality Conference” in June 2022. They are therefore undertaking a...
14th November 2021
GEO research finds no evidence for banning transgender “conversion therapy”
The UK government is proposing making it an offence for therapists to question the gender self-identity of children or vulnerable people. They asked a research team from Coventry University to study the evidence on "conversion therapy". This is our rapid review of that evidence.
3rd November 2021
Is there evidence of an urgent epidemic of conversion therapy?
One piece of evidence that is often cited in support of a ban on “conversion therapy” is the the Government’s LGBT Survey undertaken in 2017. 108,000 people responded. 2% of all respondents reported having previous undergone conversion therapy and a further 5% said they had been offered it. A...
6th October 2021
Groups defending sex-based rights
Overview of groups opposing sex self-ID in the UK, set up by individuals and collectives concerned by the failure of established third-sector organisations to defend women’s sex-based rights, child safeguarding and evidence-based policymaking. Also listed on our website.
Briefing: “Conversion” therapy or just therapy?
There has been a media report that a young patient has complained to the General Medical Council about Dr Az Hakeem, accusing him of “conversion therapy”. This is Sex Matters’ brief analysis.
Why ban talking therapy?
How a campaign to criminalise the most effective treatment for gender-distressed children made it from the margins to the mainstream: we look at the history of conversion therapy.
Response to the government consultation on banning conversion therapy￼
We reviewed the government’s evidence base and, like the EHRC, found little evidence to support this legislation – and a great deal that concerned us…
Rapid review of Coventry University research on conversion therapy
Is there evidence to support the proposal to criminalise people who engage in talking therapies “aiming to change someone from being transgender”? Sex Matters doesn’t think so.
Gender dysphoria in young people is rising – and so is professional disagreement
More children and adolescents are identifying as transgender and are being offered medical treatment, especially in the US – but some providers and European authorities are urging caution because of a lack of strong evidence. Jennifer Block reports.
Gay Men’s Network: Banning conversion therapy
Gay men respond to the UK government consultation.
Founded in 2021, a group of psychotherapists and counsellors who campaign to raise awareness of the negative impact of gender ideology on mental-health services, in particular for children with gender dysphoria. Work has focused on government proposals to ban “gender-identity conversion therapy” and on the “Memorandum of Understanding on...
Through the Looking Glass: Making sense of the memorandum of understanding on conversion therapy
A two-part article by counsellor, supervisor, trainer and researcher Peter Jenkins, exploring the impact of trans activism channelled via the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy (MOU) on the practice of counselling and psychological therapy within the context of the United Kingdom.
Scoping survey for government equalities office consultation on conversion therapy
Written by Thoughtful Therapists, a group of psychotherapists and counsellors working in the area of gender and gender dysphoria, in November 2021
The Cass Review – independent review of gender identity services for children and young people: Interim report
Understanding the current landscape and the reasons why change is needed, in order to consider how to improve and develop the future clinical approach and service model.
Banning conversion therapy: a response from the Bayswater Support Group
The UK’s largest support group run by and for parents of children, adolescents and young adults who identify as transgender responds to the government consultation.
Conversion therapy: the path to good law
Barrister Naomi Cunningham’s talk at the Middle Temple LGBTQ+ Forum Inaugural Annual Dinner