Christian campaigners have warned the Westminster Government not to allow a ban on so-called conversion therapy to become an “LGBT blasphemy law”.
Let Us Pray, which campaigns to prevent the ordinary work of churches from being included in a broad ban, said the Government risks legislative overreach.
The group, backed by The Christian Institute, said the proposed Bill has the potential to turn into “an LGBT blasphemy law, criminalising the mere expression of opinions”.
In a statement, Let Us Pray spokesman Simon Calvert said that everyone “deserves to be protected from verbal and physical abuse”, but added that the recent leaked memo on conversion therapy “confirmed that LGBT people are already protected by existing law”.
He pointed out that the same memo also admitted that “the evidence base for further legislative measures on conversion therapy is weak”, and he said that the Government’s intention to legislate without this evidence base is “especially dangerous”.
The Government has acknowledged the evidence base for further legislative measures on conversion therapy is weak.
He said: “Pursuing this Bill seems to be more about placating angry backbenchers than addressing an actual gap in the law.”
Mr Calvert continued: “A leading human rights QC has warned that an ill-considered conversion therapy law could breach fundamental human rights, cutting across innocent, every-day Christian practices such as prayer, pastoral conversations, preaching and even parenting.
“The Government says it wants to protect religious freedoms in the legislation but many of those calling for the ban simply do not agree with them. They want the ban to be a new speech crime – a kind of LGBT blasphemy law – to criminalise those who express the ‘wrong’ opinions.”
He explained that leading conversion therapy activist Jayne Ozanne “wants the ban to include teaching abstinence and ‘gentle, non-coercive prayer’” and that Humanists UK “even want to widen the ban to include ‘repentance’ – a core Christian practice”.
“By pushing forward with a ban the Government risks handing these activists a veto on the ordinary, innocent, everyday practices of churches.”