Conversion Therapy Bill (November 2023)

“Thank you for contacting me about conversion therapy.


I am clear that no one in this country should be harmed or harassed for who they are and attempts at so-called 'conversion therapy' are abhorrent.


The Minister for Equalities has insisted that the Government has no intention to stop parents, clinicians, teachers, or anyone else from having open and explorative conversations with young people or others about their sexual orientation or whether they are transgender or not. I joined many Conservative MP colleagues in writing to the Prime Minister on 20th October to express our objection to the inclusion of a Conversion Therapy Bill in the King’s Speech. It was not included in the King’s Speech. For the avoidance of doubt, I am against ‘conversion therapy’ but the Government is still unable to properly define ‘conversion therapy’ or specific practices that it wants to ban; all of the appalling practices people think of as ‘gay conversion therapy’ are already illegal as forms of abuse, coercion and assault. The draft bill also included a ban on ‘trans conversion therapy’. This would enshrine the idea of ‘gender identity’ into law, and it may become illegal for someone, including a parent, to counsel a child that they should not ‘change gender’. This Government is actively pushing back on the harms of gender ideology in our schools and institutions, so I cannot fathom why it would take the step of putting it into statute.


Whilst the intention of the bill is to ensure parents, clinicians and teachers can continue to have conversations with people seeking support, all primary legislation can be amended, and once the Government has published the bill it cannot control the outcome as many sitting on the Labour benches or in the Lords will attach extreme amendments negating any careful drafting or legitimate exemptions.


Regarding concerns over young people using hormone blockers, in compliance with its legal duties, NHS England launched a public consultation on the proposals for puberty suppressing hormones which closed on 1 November. NHS England will consider all consultation responses and publish a finalised interim policy alongside a full consultation report and detailed analysis.


In the meantime, any puberty blocker prescribing requests will continue to be reviewed by the independent Multi Professional Review Group that was set up by NHS England in 2021, to review all such prescribing requests and ensure they have correctly followed relevant procedures, such as fully assessing competence. For children who, at the point the proposed new clinical policy takes effect, have already been referred into an endocrine clinic and/or already prescribed puberty blockers through an NHS prescription, the consultant endocrinologist will need to consider with the child or young person and their family whether to continue with prescribing within the current clinical pathway.


The Government is carefully considering this very complex issue and I intend to follow future developments on this issue closely. Importantly, we must safeguard our children against extreme trans-ideology, as well as protect the rights of women and children and freedom of speech.


Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.


Yours sincerely,

Sally-Ann Hart”