‘Conversion practices’ Bill fails in House of Commons

Legislation for a ‘conversion therapy’ ban which could have criminalised churches for only baptising those who follow biblical sexual ethics has failed in the House of Commons.

Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle’s Private Member’s Bill was debated today, but after being strongly opposed, ran out of time to progress. Russell-Moyle had tried to force a vote earlier in the debate, but lacked the necessary support.

The Bill can no longer become law, but the Government did reiterate its intention to bring forward its own Bill shortly after the Cass Review reports “in the coming weeks”.

Prosecuting parents

Many MPs from across the political spectrum spoke out against the Bill during the debate, including former Cabinet Ministers Liam Fox and Suella Braverman, and Alba Party MP Neale Hanvey.

Christian MP Miriam Cates noted: “despite the wide range of views raised during this debate, we still have not established what it is that is not yet already illegal, that should be made illegal”.

The mother-of-three said her particular concern was for parents, explaining: “if a parent in exercising their parental responsibility is found by a court to have committed an action that counts as conversion therapy, how would that court then find that that parent has been acting in the best interests of the welfare of the child?

“That seems highly unlikely to me, and very likely to lead to parents being prosecuted, or at the very least, feeling that they are not able to speak freely to their children as they would wish in order to keep them safe and prevent them from making irreversible decisions.”

‘Contested and unevidenced’

Mrs Cates explained that one of the Bill’s fundamental flaws was its lack of a concrete definition for the term ‘transgender’, saying: “If it can’t be defined in law, how can we safely legislate for it? How can we ban someone from converting someone to or from transgender if you can’t define transgender?

“If, like me, people believe that gender ideology is not based on factual evidence, that we should therefore be telling children that they cannot change sex and that we should be helping them to live happily in their own sex, however they want to dress and whatever hobbies they want to pursue, how can we legislate for it if we do not think it is real?”

a solution in search of a problem Rosie Duffield MP

She added: “That is the problem at the heart of this Bill, and why we cannot safely legislate in this space, and why we absolutely mustn’t be putting these, I’m afraid, contested and unevidenced ideas into law.”

‘Social media politics’

Labour MP Rosie Duffield agreed, saying: “I believe this proposed legislation is not necessary to fix a problem, rather it creates several serious new ones”, before reflecting: “this is a solution in search of a problem”.

She also hit out at the motivation behind the legislation, saying: “Are all the members supporting this Bill really willing to decide what constitutes conversion therapy, and what they deem to be acceptable talking support? Are they doing so because they believe this is serious legislation? Or is this politics for social media likes?”

In a scathing speech, she continued: “We have a clear divide in the chamber today, the beneficiaries of Stonewall badges and donations and the groups of so called Gender critical feminists that I represent, but tribes on social media are not legislators.

“We are writing laws here, and getting it right is essential and serious. The dumbing down of such important debates for likes is not only vacuous, it sets a dangerous precedent and we need to be better than this when making the laws of this country.”

‘Chilling effect’

Speaking on behalf of the Government, Maria Caulfield MP, said the Bill “carries a lack of legislative clarity, which risks unintended consequences”.

She said it risked “creating a chilling effect for clinicians”, adding: “the impact on healthcare professionals may well be the single biggest challenge within the legislation in this area”.

She also repeated previous Government concerns about including “suppression” within the offence. She said this could criminalise “a religious leader who supports an individual who wants to manage their same-sex attraction in order to align with their individual religious belief”.

Also see:


Second ‘conversion practices’ Bill slammed by top KC

‘Jellyfish legislation’: Top KC launches searing attack on Scots ‘conversion therapy’ law

Starmer commits to ‘all-encompassing conversion therapy law’

Top KC says Scot Govt ‘incoherent’ on so-called conversion practices

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