LGBT activists have complained that the Government has decided to consult the public on the scope of plans to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’.
Earlier this week, the Government used the Queen’s Speech to announce that it will consider the effects of a ban covering sexuality and ‘gender identity’ on religious freedom in England and Wales.
But activists led by Church of England General Synod member Jayne Ozanne say that there is no need to discuss religious exemptions. They are demanding that the ban covers the ordinary work of churches including prayer, preaching and pastoral care.
Ozanne tweeted after the announcement: “Prayer isn’t prayer if it causes you to hate yourself for being LGBT! It’s actually ‘Hate prayer’. It is dangerous, damaging & must be included in a bill to #BanConversationtherapy”.
She told inews: “I just think the government has consulted long enough, it has done research it’s never published. Now is the time for action, before more lives are lost.
“We are in a Groundhog Day of consultations.”
In an interview with Jeremy Vine, Ozanne hit out at religious leaders who wish to continue praying with or supporting same-sex attracted people who seek to live in accordance with the Bible’s teachings on gender and sexuality.
She claimed: “It’s deeply damaging and it’s a form of abuse.”
She said only prayer which allows people to explore their sexuality or gender identity should be permitted, and that any prayer with a “predetermined outcome” should be banned.
Former evangelical Steve Chalke tweeted: “I believe in ‘religious freedom’. It is a basic human right. But it does not include the right to attempt to suppress or change another person’s sexuality or gender orientation. The govt’s proposed #BanConversionTherapy bill must clarify that.”
After the announcement in Parliament, the Government issued a statement saying it will ensure that “medical professionals, religious leaders, teachers and parents can continue to be able to have open and honest conversations with people”.
The Christian Institute has warned the Government it will pursue legal action if a ban outlaws the ‘wrong kind of prayer’ or opinions about sex.
In a detailed legal opinion for the Institute, Jason Coppel QC confirmed that activists’ proposed definitions of the law would criminalise the ordinary work of churches.