MPs are set to debate a petition which calls on the Government to ban conversion therapy.
The petition will be considered by MPs in a Westminster Hall debate on Monday, 8 March. Such debates are used to raise issues with Ministers and get them to make policy commitments.
Activists pushing for a ban have often branded prayer and pastoral support as ‘conversion therapy’, alongside criminal behaviour such as so-called ‘corrective rape’.
The petition demands the Government make it a criminal offence to practise conversion therapy in the UK or send people abroad for it, and to force people to attend conversion therapies.
The Government is committed to debating any petition which obtains over 100,000 signatures.
When the Government initially responded to the petition in May, it said that conversion therapy is a “very complex issue”, and that there are “a wide range of practices which may fall within its scope”.
In a statement, it said: “It is important to stress that certain abhorrent and violent practices which may be classed as conversion therapy such as ‘corrective’ rape, or other forms of physical abuse, are already covered by existing criminal offences.
“Where such practices are already unlawful, we will ensure the law is clear, well understood and enforced. Where dangerous conversion therapy practices are not already unlawful, we will examine the best ways to prevent them being conducted, without sending such practices underground.
we are not trying to prevent LGBT people from seeking spiritual support from their faith leader
“As we have said previously, we are not trying to prevent LGBT people from seeking spiritual support from their faith leader or others in the exploration of their sexual orientation.”
The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert said conversion therapy is a complex issue.
He said: “I’m sure there have been charlatan preachers and quack therapists. But LGBT campaigners are deliberately muddling Christian conversion with conversion therapy.
“They are effectively saying Christian preaching and prayer which goes against LGBT theology should be banned.
“I sincerely hope MPs recognise that there is a big difference between upholding Christ’s teaching on sexuality and psychologically abusing someone.”