Former special advisor: ‘Govt must not rush through conversion therapy ban’

Westminster must not rush through its proposed conversion therapy ban, a former senior advisor to Number 10 has said.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, former Director of Legislative Affairs Nikki Da Costa warned the proposed legislation “could cause, rather than prevent harm to children” and called for sufficient time for serious concerns to be addressed.

Last week, the Government announced that it would push ahead with a ban just hours after a leaked document revealed that it had planned to implement ‘non-legislative measures’ instead. It has been reported that the ban will not apply to those experiencing gender confusion.

High stakes

Da Costa highlighted that the criminal law is already in place to address unlawful practices.

She questioned if parents would be “hauled through the courts” under the proposed ban if they failed to affirm their child’s gender confusion or encouraged a period of reflection. She said: “How would the line be drawn in law between what was and was not acceptable?”

The former top Government adviser commented that “any bill banning conversion therapy for sexual orientation is bound to see poorly drafted amendments to insert gender identity tabled within weeks of introduction. Lobby groups will whip up a social media storm, portraying anyone that votes against the amendment as transphobic”.

Lobby groups will whip up a social media storm, portraying anyone that votes against the amendment as transphobic.

She concluded: “When the stakes are as high as they are in this case, involving vulnerable children, the need for circumspection has never been greater.”

Criminalising churches

Last week, church leaders contacted Boris Johnson to express “considerable concern” over the Government’s decision not to abandon its proposed conversion therapy ban.

The ministers, including Revds Ray Brown, Matthew Roberts and Graham Nicholls, were among those who co-authored a letter signed by more than 2,500 others that was sent to the Minister for Women and Equalities in December, urging her not to include ordinary Christian preaching, prayer and pastoral care in a ban.

The leaders said that “it remains the case that a poorly-drafted ‘LGB only’ conversion therapy law could still criminalise mainstream Christian teaching and ministry, by making it illegal for us to teach people and help people of every age to live according to the Christian understanding of marriage”.

Also see:

Government conversion therapy ban ‘will go ahead’

Three CofE bishops support a ‘conversion therapy’ ban that would jail their own clergy

MSPs backing for ‘conversion therapy’ ban fuels religious freedom fears

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