The ‘conversion therapy’ debacle in Australia should serve as a warning against pursuing a ban in the UK, The Christian Institute has told the Prime Minister.
The Institute has written to Mr Sunak over his plans to outlaw so-called ‘conversion therapy’, after more details emerged of oppressive rules in the Australian state of Victoria.
In March 2022, the Government admitted in leaked documents that new UK legislation is unnecessary because LGBT people are fully protected from abuse under existing law, and that “the evidence-base for further legislative measures on conversion therapy is weak“.
In the letter, the Institute urged the Prime Minister to heed the warnings from Australia and not legislate in such a controversial area.
The CI pointed out that under Victoria’s repressive law “not affirming someone’s gender identity”, and parents refusing “to support their child’s request for medical treatment that will prevent physical changes from puberty” are deemed illegal practices.
Recent updates to guidance on the legislation also state that Christians can only pray in a way that affirms that everyone is “perfect as they are”. Prayers that “talk about a person’s brokenness or need to repent” are deemed harmful and likely to be illegal.
Christians and gender-critical groups in New South Wales (NSW) have expressed concern that proposals released for consultation emulate Victoria’s controversial aims and recent news reports have highlighted a conflict with religious freedom.
it won’t take long for state bodies to feel they have the right to dictate to churches what they can and cannot teach and precisely how to pray
“Any legislation on ‘conversion therapy’”, the letter added, “will likely see ordinary people facing investigation over claims that their innocent conversations were really malign attempts to ‘change or suppress’ LGBT people.”
Furthermore, it continued, “Any protections in the legislation will be attacked by activists and may be stripped out by their allies in Parliament.”
In a subsequent statement, the Institute’s Deputy Director (Public Affairs) Simon Calvert said: “Religious believers could undoubtedly experience the worst effects of this sort of law.
“As we have seen in Victoria, it won’t take long for state bodies to feel they have the right to dictate to churches what they can and cannot teach and precisely how to pray.
“Those who refuse to ditch the teaching of the Bible could soon find themselves at the mercy of the criminal justice system.”
He continued: “A whole plethora of Christian creeds and teachings would be found wanting.
“Right at the heart of the Christian Gospel is a message that all people are sinners who need to repent and be forgiven, and that we all need to seek God’s help in avoiding all sorts of temptation.”
“If what the official guidance in Victoria says was upheld in the law courts, whole swathes of scripture could not be read with LGBT people and every church would have to rethink their hymnbooks and prayers.”
The news from Victoria and NSW, Mr Calvert warned, “sends a signal about the disarray and difficulty that faces the UK Government, should it publish its long-delayed conversion therapy ban proposals as expected in the autumn.
“The demand for a ban appears to be an attempt by groups like Stonewall and Mermaids to force the wider public to agree with their particular ideological viewpoint.
“This extends far beyond religious beliefs, and to other strongly-held beliefs over sex, gender, feminism and parental responsibility.”