The UK’s Tory government has humiliatingly been forced to cancel an international conference of LGBT+ people in a row over its support for conversion therapy.
According to Wikipedia, “Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual or their gender identity from transgender to cisgender using psychological, physical, or spiritual interventions.
“There is no reliable evidence that such practices can alter sexual orientation or gender identity, and medical institutions warn that conversion therapy is ineffective and potentially harmful.”
The government had promised to outlaw conversion therapy in any form – but u-turned last week, saying any ban would only apply to attempts to alter a person’s sexuality, not attempts to try to change people’s gender identity.
So it seems the Tories are happy to expose trans people to potential harm.
It’s probably no wonder, then, that more than 100 LGBT+ organisations have responded by walking out of the Tories’ big, flagship, headline-grabbing international conference for, among all the other groups, trans people.
The killing blow was dealt to the event on Tuesday (April 5, 2022) when Iain Anderson, the Tory government’s first LGBT+ business champion, resigned. His unpaid role was specially-created for the lead-up to the conference, and was expected to last 18 months.
He would have been expected to showcase what UK businesses have done in reducing workplace discrimination and promoting quality for LGBT+ people at the conference – a tricky job in the light of the government’s new policy.
In a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson, who has allowed (demanded?) the u-turn to happen, he stated: “Trust and belief in the government’s overall commitment to LGBT+ rights has been damaged.
“I believe a comprehensive plan to support LGBT+ people to play their full part in our society is urgently needed.”
Johnson himself has previously called the practice of conversion therapy “repulsive and abhorrent” and had promised plans to outlaw it on a number of separate occasions. Has he been lying again?
A government spokesperson has responded with a statement that it would carry out “separate work” on the issue of transgender conversion therapy but it was keen for any legislation not to have “unintended consequences”, adding it was a “legally complex area”.
Oh yes – “unintended consequences”. We know that’s something that the government has always tried to avoid! (Hint: it never has.)
A Conservative MP, who did not want to be named, told the BBC: “Having failed to deliver for the LGBT community at home, we will now fail to deliver for LGBT communities around the world. What a record.”
Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry posted on Twitter: “For three years, I urged the Government to use the opportunity they had as co-chair of the (intergovernmental) Equal Rights Coalition to take a global lead on LGBTQ+ issues.
“For three years, they did nothing except talk up their ‘Safe To Be Me’ conference. And now where are we? What a sickening waste.”
Consortium, the umbrella body for LGBT+ voluntary and community organisations, said: “The implications of the international LGBT conference being cancelled are solely at the doorstep of Number 10.
“LGBT+ organisations were left with no choice but to withdraw any support in order to stand in solidarity and partnership with our trans communities.”
So there you have it. The Tories’ own prejudices have humiliated them. This is a terrific example of people power laying the mighty low. We may all learn from this.
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