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MP makes bid to ban offering or advertising LGBT conversion practices

By PA News

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A Pride flag (Mike Egerton/PA)

Offering or advertising LGBT conversion practices would be banned under a proposed law to be considered by MPs on Friday.

The Conversion Practices (Prohibition) Bill would create new offences for a course of conduct whose “predetermined” purpose was to change a person’s sexual orientation or to change a person to or from being transgender.

This would include offering or taking payment for such practices and if a person helps send someone outside of the UK for these practices.

The point of my law is to stop these practices
Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle

Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle’s Bill also offers “clarifications” about actions that do not meet a criminal threshold, including for the actions of parents, health practitioners and those exercising freedom of religion and other beliefs.

Unlimited fines could be handed out to offenders under the Bill and it would only allow prosecutions which have the consent of the relevant public prosecutor.

The measures, which will be considered at second reading in the Commons on Friday, would apply to England and Wales and could also be brought into force in Northern Ireland and Scotland through regulations subject to approval by their assembly or parliament.

Mr Russell-Moyle, the MP for Brighton Kemptown, told the PA news agency: “What it does is rather than trying to do everything, what we do is focus on the worst bit of it, focus on the bit that is the organised activities, organised course of conduct, meaning it has to be more than once or a planned activity, and we get to a stage where we think most reasonable people who know these practices can happen, is happening, will agree this is a first start.”

The MP said he has been talking to different campaign groups, MPs and others to try and ensure the Bill attracts the widest possible support and ensures there are “reasonable” discussions on the issue.

He said: “The point of my law is to prosecute nobody.

“The point of my law is to stop these practices, and we think we stop the practice by setting a clear moral statement that these are unacceptable, saying people who are deliberately and egregiously breaking this will be punished through a fine, not a prison sentence; we want to stop the practice, not lock people up.”

Mr Russell-Moyle added: “Through this process I have tried to reduce the heat out of the debate based on evidence and sensible heads, not to exclude anyone, no slogans but instead real words that people can come around and seek compromise on.

“If we pass the Bill into committee stage, what we will do is in committee is be able to deliberate on that, reset the debate in this country from a debate that was about people screaming at each other to a debate that’s about sensible protections for people.”

Mr Russell-Moyle said if the Bill reaches its final Commons stage of third reading then there is a chance to “set a clear social norm” that conversion practices are “unacceptable”.

If passed this would result in criminalising Christians and gender-critical parents for conversations which most people would consider perfectly reasonable.
Simon Calvert, deputy director at the Christian Institute

After he acknowledged a general election is on the horizon, the MP said: “What I want to do is produce something that whatever party wins, if we don’t manage to get this Bill through this time, they have something here that is no longer in the ‘too difficult box’, as that’s where it has been put very squarely.”

Simon Calvert, deputy director at the Christian Institute, welcomed Mr Russell-Moyle’s attempts to engage with a range of groups but said the wording is “sloppy and definitions far too broad”.

He said: “If passed this would result in criminalising Christians and gender-critical parents for conversations which most people would consider perfectly reasonable.

“This is not about protecting people from abuse.

“That is already illegal. There is no ‘harm’ test in the Bill. It is about punishing people for talking.”

The UK Government first announced its intention to ban so-called “gay cure” conversion therapies in 2018 as part of its LGBT action plan.

The proposals were initially intended to be “universal” and protect all LGBT people, although in 2022 then-prime minister Boris Johnson defended a decision not to include trans people.

In January 2023, the Government said it would set out how it would ban conversion therapy for “everyone”, including transgender people, in England and Wales.

Education minister Baroness Barran last month told peers: “It remains our intention to publish a draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny.”

Her remarks came as peers debated a separate proposed law to ban sexual orientation and gender identity conversion practices.

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