Respond to the conversion therapy consultation

Tell the government to press pause on its rush to criminalise “gender identity conversion therapy” for children. Wait for the Cass Review.

Anyone aged 16 or over can respond to the consultation, and it is important that you do. You can share your personal perspective, as a parent, as someone who works with children and vulnerable people or from your own life experience. You might be an expert, or an ordinary citizen. This is our response to the consultation.

Take action. Respond to the consultation

Sex Matters has set up two ways to help you to respond easily to the consultation. Choose one option

Option 1: Full response

Answer all 15+ questions. Time needed: about an hour. You should use this option especially if you are an expert, therapist, clinician, teacher, researcher, lawyer etc.. or if you or your child has had an experience of conversion (including encouragement to transition). You can tell us about your response via this survey.

  1. Download our worksheet [Updated]
  2. Write answers to all the questions in your own words
  3. Cut and paste them into the government’s form

Option 2: Quick response

Answer the two most important questions. Time needed: about 10 minutes. Choose this option if you don’t have much time or you don’t have particular answers to all the questions.

  1. Check that you are happy with Sex Matters standard answers at the bottom of this page
  2. Use the form below to write answers to the two most important questions in your own words
  3. Fill in your details, click the consent boxes and send

Important note: However you respond to the consultation we think it is worth being aware that the first question on views on banning conversion therapy is not one of the numbered consultation questions. The government has been clear that the consultation is not about whether but how to ban conversion therapy, so it is possible that this initial question will be used as a filter, and those who answer “Disagree” will have their other answers discounted. We have therefore answered Somewhat agree and then explained that by including gender identity/being transgender this policy risks having the opposite effect to its intention, leading to more children being told there is something wrong with them and they need to be converted through hormonal treatment and physical surgeries.

Quick response form

Use this form if you agree broadly with Sex Matters response to the consultation and want to add your voice by answering the two most important questions in your own words.


Our answers to the other questions

The consultation requires responses to a whole set of questions. These are the short answers that will be submitted together with your two personal answers if you use quick response form. (NB: You don’t have to do anything with this text, it will automatically be included when you press submit) . If you prefer to give different answers to these don’t use our quick response form, but respond directly using the government’s website.

To what extent do you support, or not support, the Government’s proposal for addressing physical acts of conversion therapy? Strongly not support

Physical and sexual abuse are already crimes under English and Welsh law. Hate crime legislation already requires that courts treat a crime more seriously if it is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person’s sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or transgender identity or perceived transgender identity. This can already be used as an aggravator for conversion related assault or other criminal acts.

How far do you agree or disagree with the penalties being proposed? (on “talking therapies”) Strongly disagree

Do you think that these proposals miss anything? Yes

The Government considers that Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code already provides measures against the broadcast and promotion of conversion therapy. How far do you agree or disagree with this? Somewhat agree

The Ofcom code states that material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of people under eighteen must not be broadcast. Broadcasters should be aware that transition (including social transition) is a significant medical step and should not be promoted as uncomplicated and a universal panacea. Programs that equate not conforming to gender stereotypes about dress, hair, make up and hobbies with being trans are not responsible. Particular care should be taken with storylines and advocacy that use suicide as a threat.

Do you know of any examples of broadcasting that you consider to be endorsing or promoting conversion therapy? Prefer not to say

The Government considers that the existing codes set out by the Advertising Standards Authority and the Committee of Advertising Practice already prohibits the advertisement of conversion therapy. How far do you agree or disagree with this? Somewhat agree

The Advertising Standards Agency recognises that: “children and young people are vulnerable to body image pressures and negative body image perceptions are prevalent amongst those groups, which can have an impact on their self-esteem, wellbeing, mental health and behaviours.” The Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) gives guidance against trivialising surgery and says that “marketers should ensure that cosmetic surgery ads do not exploit the insecurities of children, young people and vulnerable groups”.  New rules being introduced in 2022 will ban cosmetic surgery clinics from targeting adverts at under-18s. The ASA should be aware of advertising (including social media influencers) encouraging young women to have breast removal (so called “top surgery”), and for gender transition in general.

Do you know of any examples of advertisements that you consider to be endorsing or promoting conversion therapy? Prefer not to say

The consultation document describes proposals to introduce conversion therapy protection orders to tackle a gap in provision for victims of the practice. To what extent do you agree or disagree that there is a gap in the provision for victims of conversion therapy? Somewhat disagree

To what extent do you agree or disagree with our proposals for addressing this gap we have identified? Somewhat disagree

Giving charities and teachers the power to apply for such an order could result in oppressive court orders, preventing parents travelling abroad or to live in another country with their children. This would interfere with the freedom of parents to bring up their child as they see fit. Proving that the intention was to seek out conversion therapy for gender identity would likely be impossible to prove.

Charity trustees are the people who are responsible for governing a charity and directing how it is managed and run. The consultation document describes proposals whereby anyone found guilty of carrying out conversion therapy will have the case against them for being disqualified from serving as a trustee at any charity strengthened. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this approach? Strongly disagree

To what extent do you agree or disagree that the following organisations are providing adequate action against people who might already be carrying out conversion therapy?

  • Police: Neither agree or disagree
  • Crown Prosecution Service:  Neither agree or disagree
  • Other statutory service: Neither agree or disagree 

To what extent do you agree or disagree that the following organisations are providing adequate support for victims of conversion therapy?

  • Police: Neither agree or disagree
  • Crown Prosecution Service:  Neither agree or disagree
  • Other statutory service: Neither agree or disagree 

Do you think that these services can do more to support victims of conversion therapy? Prefer not to say 

Do you have any evidence on the economic or financial costs or benefits of any of the proposals set out in the consultation? No

There is a duty on public authorities to consider or think about how their policies or decisions affect people who are protected under the Equality Act 2010. Do you have any evidence of the equalities impacts of any proposals set out in the consultation? No