The Christian Institute and its Let Us Pray campaign has been defending the ordinary work of churches since the Government announced it was considering a new law on so called conversion therapy.


‘Conversion therapy’ is a wide umbrella term chosen by LGBT campaigners. It covers abusive practices by quack medical practitioners and charlatan preachers which are largely illegal already. But campaigners want to go much further and criminalise repentance as well as preaching, prayer, pastoral care and even parenting that fails to endorse liberal theology.

Coercive and abusive behaviour should be caught by existing law. But it is wrong for biblically faithful preaching, prayer, pastoral care and parenting to be in the sights of lawmakers.

Legal challenges

The Christian Institute has instructed solicitors in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland to prepare the ground for a potential judicial review of any new laws on ‘conversion therapy’ that restrict religious freedom.

This is based on legal advice received from one of the UK’s leading human rights KCs warning that an indiscriminate ban could criminalise the ordinary work of churches. This would put the UK in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and open the Government to legal challenge in the courts.

The Institute has won both its previous judicial reviews against UK governments. The first, in 2007, resulted in a partial strike down of the Northern Ireland Sexual Orientation Regulations. The second, in 2016, resulted in the repeal of the Scottish Government’s unlawful ‘Named Person’ scheme.

Read Jason Coppel KC’s April 2021 legal opinion
Read a highlighted version of his December 2023 opinion on Baroness Burt’s Private Members’ Bill.
Read the key extracts

Scottish Govt on new collision course with courts

Aidan O’Neill KC has also provided two legal opinions for the Institute.

In the first in December 2022 he warned that the Scottish Government’s extreme ‘conversion therapy’ proposals are “beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament to legislate”. He explained that the “fundamentally illiberal” proposals also breach Holyrood’s competence as set out in the Scotland Act of 1998 as they contain measures which change UK equality and discrimination law which is not devolved to Holyrood.

Read a highlighted version of the full 2022 opinion
Read a summary and extracts

In his subsequent opinion from February 2024 he branded proposals set out in an 86-page consultation document as “jellyfish legislation… impossible to grasp… [with] a sting in the tail”.

Read a highlighted version of the 2024 opinion

Letters from our solicitors to the respective governments in Westminster, Holyrood and Stormont:

Letter to The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Minister for Women and Equalities

Letter to Deirdre Hargey MLA, Minister for Communities

Letter to Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government


Please accept preferences cookies to view this content.

Key Resources