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Human Rights Lawyers Call On UK Government To Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’

conversion therapy

Human rights lawyers call on UK government to ban ‘conversion therapy’

Leading human rights lawyers and experts have called for swift action to outlaw so-called conversion therapy, which they say is degrading and harmful, and should not be tolerated in a civilised society.

The Forum, chaired by Helena Kennedy QC, says all practices, including prayer, that seek to suppress, “cure” or change sexual orientation or gender identity must be criminalised. There should be no defence that a victim appears to have consented.

“Individuals who seek out conversion practices in the hope of being ‘cured’ are not made aware of the severe psychological harm to which they are exposed, and so cannot give informed consent,” says the Forum’s report, published on Friday.

People who “actively sought out and ‘consented’ to these practices … have since provided evidence of the severe, long-term, negative psychological impact”.

In May, the government announced it would bring forward legislation to ban “conversion therapy” but said it would first hold consultations on the issue. Since pledging to introduce a ban three years ago, it has come under pressure from some faith organisations to exempt prayer on the grounds of religious freedom.

Eighteen senior lawyers, academics, parliamentarians and civil society leaders are signatories to the Forum’s Cooper report, named after the human rights barrister Jonathan Cooper, who died suddenly earlier this month.

It demands a broad definition of conversion practices to prevent loopholes, saying it should cover “any practice that seeks to suppress, ‘cure’ or change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.

The report says: “It is vital that the definition implemented is sufficiently broad to effectively capture all forms these practices can take. Legislation must not allow any potential loopholes for individuals and institutions to continue undertaking conversion practices under a modified aim or false pretence.”

It also says that an exemption for religious practices would undermine prohibition. In an article published by the Guardian, Kennedy writes: “The government is undoubtedly under pressure from some religious institutions to severely limit such a ban on the fallacious grounds that it would interfere with religious freedom.”

The report recommends legislation criminalising condemnatory prayer that seeks to suppress or change a person’s identity, but permitting prayer that seeks to help someone come to terms with who they are.

Criminalisation is “essential when dealing with human rights abuses as this draws a clear line as to what acts will and will not be tolerated in a civilised society”, writes Kennedy. Perpetrators should be “left in no doubt that if they continue their harmful practices, they will face the full force of the law”.

The government should implement legislation without delay, she adds. “We question why further consultation is needed – too many lives have already been impacted by this form of abuse and countless more are still at risk.”

According to government research, 7% of LGBT+ people have experienced some form of conversion practice. Campaigners say it causes psychological harm and can drive people to self-harm or suicide.

In the Queen’s speech in May, Boris Johnson’s government said it would legislate to ban “coercive and abhorrent” conversion practices, but pledged to uphold freedom of speech and religious freedom. Some churches and faith leaders say politicians must not be permitted to dictate what people may or may not pray about.

Pray Away focuses in particular on Exodus International, which propelled and popularized the idea that it was possible – and preferable – to change one’s sexual orientation.

But David Walker, the bishop of Manchester, has said faith leaders should face prosecution if they failed to comply with a ban. Activity leading to prosecution should include prayer aimed at changing someone’s sexual orientation, he told the Guardian in June.

Campaigners for LGBT+ rights have warned that plans for government consultations before legislation is laid before parliament will lead to a dangerous delay.

Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on global LGBT+ rights and a member of the Forum, said: “The continued delay casts doubt over the government’s good intentions and Global Britain’s leadership on LGBT rights.

“These recommendations can and should be implemented without delay, for whilst we wait countless lives are being impacted, as it implies the UK thinks it is alright to try and ‘fix’ anyone’s sexuality and gender identity … Further government prevarication is no longer defensible.”

Almost two-thirds of British adults believe conversion practices should be banned, according to a YouGov survey earlier this year. The Royal College of Psychiatrists supports a ban, saying conversion practices are “unacceptable and harmful”.

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Bauchi pays N3.418bn in outstanding gratuities

The Bauchi State Pensions Board has announced that, from May 2019 to date, the state government has paid N3,418,288,11.68 in outstanding gratuities owed to retired civil servants.

The Chairman of the Board, Senator Bala Adamu Kariya, made the disclosure at the ongoing ministerial press briefing in Bauchi, held at the State Secretariat.

Although Senator Kariya did not specify the total gratuity backlog, he noted that it exceeds N20 billion.

He stated that since the inception of the current Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administration in 2019, a total of 4,273 people have retired, and 677 have died while in service, out of 4,948 files processed.

“The Board processes the files of civil servants due for retirement. We are the custodians of the processed files of all state civil servants who have retired,” the chairman stated.

Senator Adamu, however, said that in order to avoid further accumulation of pension and gratuity liabilities, the state government intends to commence the implementation of the proposed contributory pension scheme on June 30, 2021.

“As a sign of commitment, His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, appointed a 20-member committee, including a staff member of Messrs Premium Pension Ltd for technical guidance under the chairmanship of Mr. Abdon Dalla Gin (Special Adviser on Civil Service Matters).”

“In line with the Terms of Reference to the Committee, a final report with a draft bill has been carefully produced, tapping from the 2004 Act, 2014 revised Act, and previous efforts of successive state administrations like the 2005 and 2017 draft bills, and was presented to His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, as appropriate.”

He recalled that Governor Bala Mohammed had presented the report to the State Executive Council for consideration and approval, following which a draft bill was forwarded to the State House of Assembly for further legislative process in line with the laid down constitutional procedure.

“After gathering the necessary stakeholders’ input, the State House of Assembly then ratified the draft and returned the same to the Executive Governor for assent. Consequently, on August 5, 2022, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, assented to the bill enacted by the State House of Assembly.”

“It was named the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme. The law also provided for the establishment of the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Commission.”

“The state governor approved the constitution of another high-powered committee under the chairmanship of Ibrahim Muhammad Kashim, the Secretary to the State Government, to facilitate the full implementation process of the new scheme in the state.”

Kariya further explained that prior to this development, the state government appointed two firms of Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs), who have now engaged stakeholders in a massive sensitization, advocacy, and enlightenment of the scheme across the state.

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Two-storey building collapses in Abuja

A two-storey residential building in Phase 2, site 2, Kubwa Abuja has collapsed

The building collapsed on Saturday morning at about 7:00am.

It was learnt that the building was formerly a hotel, Al-Hilal, but was converted to a residential apartment.

It was gathered that several people are currently trapped in the rubble.

As at time of filing this report, emergency responders and security personnel were at the scene.

 

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Police to enforce e-CMR compliance from July 29

The Nigeria Police Force have given all motor users 14 days to register their vehicles with the newly-introduced digitalized Central Motor Registration (e-CMR), which will end on July 29, to begin the enforcement of its compliance in order to checkmate the rate of vehicle-related crimes and other offenses.

In a press release, the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, informed that the move is part of the efforts of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, to enhance the security of lives and property and significantly boost the nation’s safety.

The release further stated that the exercise is an advanced form of helping security agencies, mostly the Police Force, in their investigations and operational activities to combat vehicle-related crimes, including terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and other social vices.

It also stated that the introduction of the e-CMR digitalized system will help streamline the documentation and verification process for vehicle ownership and related transactions.

“Following the directives of the IGP, services such as change of ownership, change of license number, change of engine, and change of chassis/body would become seamless as the e-CMR system would ensure the validation of vehicle genuineness and ownership, enhancing the ability to track and recover stolen vehicles effectively, and preventing the purchase of stolen vehicles by innocent buyers.

“Prior to the enforcement itself, the IGP has ordered full publicity of the e-CMR and its enforcement to all members of the public, intimating them of the requirements, processes, and the enforcement procedures. Members of the public are urged to obtain the digitalized CMR certificate online at https://cmris.npf.gov.ng.

‘For further inquiries, individuals can contact the CMR Command Centre at FHQ Abuja (08117777666, 09169892000) and FHQ Annex Lagos (08117777555, 09169891000). Technical support is also available at cmftech@npfcmr.ng,” the release partly stated.

Following this new development, the Nigeria Police have enjoined members of the public to participate in the exercise by ensuring that all vehicle users comply with the new directive, maintaining that the initiative, which is in line with modern technology, remains a strategic approach to enhance public safety and national security.

ACP Adejobi further stated that the enforcement of the e-CMR is necessary to ensure a safer and more secure environment for vehicle ownership and to decimate the trend of vehicle theft by greatly reducing the possibility of selling stolen vehicles in the country.

“We therefore urge all vehicle owners and users to embrace and participate in this initiative promptly for optimum safety and security,” he stated.

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