The Christian Institute has stepped up its campaign against an “ideological and restrictive” conversion practices Bill that could seriously impact freedom of speech and religion in the UK.
The Institute has been raising concerns about the proposed legislation since it was first proposed by then Prime Minister Theresa May.
It is now sending more than 1,000 parliamentarians a dossier highlighting the problems with introducing a law similar to the State of Victoria in Australia.
‘Gold standard’ repression
The legislation in Victoria has been described as the “gold standard” by pro-ban activist Jayne Ozanne and “best international practice” by Stonewall’s Head of Policy.
But guidance issued by State of Victoria on its conversion therapy ban is highly illiberal, even outlining state-approved language for religious prayers and pastoral care.
According to the Victoria guidance, it appears Christian ministers could be prosecuted for encouraging churchgoers to say the Lord’s Prayer.
what is it that is currently legal, that campaigners want to ban?
The guidance is wildly at odds with orthodox Christian beliefs:
• Contrary to the foundational Christian belief that it is the one true religion, and that all people are in need of forgiveness, the guidance says LGBT people must be ‘reassured’ that “everyone has a different path” and that they are “perfect as they are”;
• Religious leaders are likely to be carrying out an illegal act if they tell people “that their gender identity is not real”, if they say prayers that “ask for a person to not act on their attractions” or “talk about a person’s brokenness or need to repent”.
So when the Lord’s Prayer asks God to “forgive us our sins”, it defies the guidance that you cannot pray about someone’s need to repent. “Lead us not into temptation” defies the guidance that you cannot pray for a person to not act on their attractions.
Lord’s prayer ban
The Institute’s Simon Calvert commented: “The Government has a massive problem with this legislation. They recognise that the terrible pseudo-therapeutic practices that were used decades ago are already illegal in the UK and any therapist claiming they can ‘cure’ people from being gay would be banned from practicing by regulators.
“So what is it that is currently legal, that campaigners want to ban?
“All the leading campaigners for a ban say they want legislation similar to what was introduced in Victoria. But this is the most ideological, restrictive and punitive ban in the world.
“It even seeks to tell Christians what they can and cannot pray. Followed to its logical conclusion, guidance from the State of Victoria bans a church leader from using the Lord’s Prayer with an LGBT person. Is this really what activists here want to outlaw?”
The State of Victoria also says not affirming someone’s gender identity is conversion therapy, as is a parent’s refusal to support their child’s request for puberty blockers.
Its controversial guidance states: “Practices that would be considered illegal under the Act include: a parent… refusing to support their child’s request for medical treatment that will prevent physical changes from puberty that do not align with the child’s gender identity”.
In September, the CI published polling showing voters want the Government to focus on the NHS and the cost of living, not an “oppressive” conversion therapy ban.
Previously, it wrote to the Government highlighting how a Victoria style ban would seriously impact religious freedom and be open to challenge in Court. It published a legal opinion from top human rights lawyer Jason Coppel KC, who confirmed a new law could infringe on human rights.
‘Ditch the Bill’
Mr Calvert concluded: “It’s time for the Government to take a reality check on this virtue signalling draft Bill.
“All the abusive practices you would expect to be banned are banned. What activists want is not a law against abuse, it is a law against disagreeing with Stonewall orthodoxy in your conversations with gay or trans people.
“As Jason Coppel KC has made clear, any legislation going further than the existing law would seriously impact free speech, religious freedom, freedom of association, and the rights of parents. It’s time to ditch this legislation once and for all.”