A number of LGBTQ celebrities have signed a joint letter to U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, calling for an urgent change to controversial conversion therapy laws in the UK.
An Urgent Message
This week, a list of LGBTQ celebrities based in the UK have rallied together to send a message to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
They have written a joint letter to the nation’s leader urging him to finally ban the controversial practice of conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is a pseudo-science that attempts to “convert” a person’s sexuality, usually from homosexual to heterosexual.
It is also used to try and “cure” the gender identity of trans people.
Over the years, medical institutions and government officials in the UK have condemned the polarizing practice.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson once called the practice “abhorrent,” and five years ago, the Conservative government pledged to legislate a nationwide ban against conversion therapy.
Promises With No Action
Five years later, conversion therapy is still legal in the UK, with successive governments failing to take action despite both the UN and NHS speaking out against the practice.
The recent open letter was written in response to these failings.
An Unpleasant Green Light
Not only does it call for legislation to ban conversion therapy, pointing to the government “giving the green light for abusers to continue unhindered,” by failing to ban it, but it also highlights the perceived failures of the UK government concerning LGBTQ people.
Failing the Community
The letter accused the government of failing to address rising hate crimes against LGBTQ people, low access to healthcare, and lack of support for LGBTQ education laws and initiatives.
Celebrities Join the Conversation
A long list of LGBTQ celebrities has put their names to the letter, including Alan Cumming, Russel Tovey, Mae Martin, Rina Sawayama and Rylan.
As one of the foremost celebrities of the group, actor Alan Cumming has also added his own thoughts to the conversation.
Sending a Message
“Until conversion therapy is banned, the UK government is sending a message that it is inherently homophobic,” Cumming stated.
He claimed that banning conversion therapy would send a positive message to young members of the LGBTQ about their place in UK society.
Hopes for the King’s Speech
According to ITV, an announcement concerning conversion therapy laws should be included in the King’s Speech next week, which details the government’s legislative plans for the coming year.
However, there have been legitimate concerns that the conversion therapy legislation will be dropped from the agenda due to persistent lobbying from Conservative MP Miriam Cates.
An Ongoing Back and Forth
The flip-flopping and promise-breaking from the government has left the LGBTQ community concerned that a conversion therapy ban will never be passed into law.
Robbie de Santos, Director of External Affairs at Stonewall, has commented on the back-and-forth concerning the practice.
Obvious Attempts at Derailment
“Following the conflicting ‘will they, won’t they’ reports, it’s obvious that long-term opponents of LGBTQ rights are trying to derail these vital protections,” he said.
“The Prime Minister has a choice of pandering to extreme voices or demonstrating his leadership by protecting LGBTQ people and standing up to abusers.”
One Week to Decide
De Santos ended his statement with firm expectations. “He has a week to decide whether his government will be on the right side of history and bring forward a full no-loopholes ban on conversion practices in the King’s speech next week.”
A Common Practice
Despite its negative public image, conversion therapy is not uncommon in the UK.
Government surveys show that 7% of the LGBTQ community have either been victimized by the practice or have been offered sessions.
Countries Move in the Opposite Direction
In recent years, several countries have made the move to fully ban conversion therapy, including Canada, Germany, and Brazil.
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