Where sex matters | Relationships
One of the most basic places where sex matters is in relationships and family life, whether that means dating, marriage and civil partnerships or pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood.
Sex matters when it comes to sex and sexual orientation.
What’s the problem?
Laws and policies which say that people can change sex directly contradict the reality of sexual orientation, sexual consent and sexual reproduction.
The law has long recognised deceit in sexual relationships as a crime, and that includes deception about what sex people say they are. The 1969 court case Corbett vs Corbett granted an annulment of a marriage on the grounds that April Ashley, despite having had sexual reassignment surgery, remained male. There have been several cases where women have been convicted of sexual assault for deceiving other women that they are a man in order to sleep with them.
The Crown Prosecution Service has promoted guidance which confuses sex and gender when it comes to sexual consent.
In October 2021, a BBC News article highlighted a problem that had already been much discussed on social media: that lesbians were being pressured and coerced into accepting trans-identifying men as partners. This situation developed out of the ideology that gender supersedes sex, recasting same-sex attraction as a matter of gender and casting gay men and women who are not attracted to the opposite sex as “transphobic”. This has been promoted by groups such as Stonewall and Amnesty International.
Eroding the definition of man and woman in the Equality Act also erodes clarity about the definition of sexual orientation in the Equality Act 2010, which makes it harder to protect the rights of lesbians, gays and bisexuals. The LGB Alliance has faced a challenge to its charitable status because it supports lesbian, gay and bisexual people and defines sexual orientation in terms of sex.
Sex Matters responds to CPS consultation
Sex Matters has responded to the Crown Prosecution Service’s public consultation on its proposed revision to the section on “deception as to gender” in its guidance on prosecuting rape and serious sexual offences. In fact what the chapter should be called is “deception as to sex”. The case law...
19th December 2022
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
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
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
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
Blade Silvano: Woman who pretended to be man guilty of sex assault
Phil Shepka for BBC News, Cambridgeshire
A woman who pretended to be a man in order to deceive a woman into having sex with her has been convicted.
Blade Silvano used an unknown object and wore boxer shorts when she sexually assaulted the victim whom she met online, Cambridge Crown Court...
Joanna Cherry KC speaks about the importance of sexual orientation under the Equality Act
For LGBT History Month 2023, Joanna Cherry speaks in the House of Commons.
Read a transcript.
Registered charity set up in 2019 to advocate for the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Founded by two lesbians, Bev Jackson (who in 1970 was a founding member of the UK Gay Liberation Front) and Kate Harris (who was formerly an active supporter of, and fundraiser for,...
Gay Men’s Network: Deception as to biological sex in cases of rape and serious sexual offences
Response to the Crown Prosecution Service’s consultation.
"We urge a radical and comprehensive re-think reflecting the law in this area and properly weighing in the balance the interests of victims."
Trans Widows Voices
A trans widow is a woman (usually heterosexual) whose male partner or husband believes that they have a gender identity other than “man” or who cross-dresses. Often women also report having experienced that their husband or partner has autogynephilia (AGP). Women in this situation report feeling as if their...
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
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
The lesbians who feel pressured to have sex and relationships with trans women
Caroline Lowbridge asks: Is a lesbian transphobic if she does not want to have sex with trans women? Some lesbians say they are increasingly being pressured and coerced into accepting trans women as partners – then shunned and even threatened for speaking out. Several have spoken to the BBC,...
Lesbians without liberty
With a foreword by Joanna Cherry, this document investigates how the UK denies freedom of association to women who love women.
Discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation is a violation of their fundamental human rights. Alongside comments from many lesbians, we explain how the law needs to...
Freedom of belief matters
Sex Matters’ response to a call for input by the United Nations’ Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Response to the Crown Prosecution Service’s consultation on deception as to sex
Sex Matters examines the proposed revision to the CPS’s legal guidance on Rape and Serious Sexual Offences, Chapter 6 – Consent
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.