Connect with us

News

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”.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

four × 3 =

News

Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Adeleke’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded Osun State Governorship Election.

This has laid to rest the suit filed by Dotun Babayemi, a governorship aspirant of the party who sought the invalidation of Adeleke’s victory.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Amina Augie, the five-member panel held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit after counsel for the appellant, Adebayo Adelodun, withdrew the earlier notice of appeal that was filed within time.

At the resumed hearing, Adelodun, who represented the appellant and Babayemi informed the court that he sought to withdraw the earlier notice of appeal to replace it with the fresh application he filed.

But the panel held that Section 285(11) of the constitution stipulated that an appeal on a pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the day of the decision, and that having filed the second appeal out of time, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Justice Augie, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Babayemi had asked the court to invalidate the primary election that produced the governor-elect, citing non-compliance with a court order.

Continue Reading

News

400 Staff To Lose Jobs As BBC Goes Digital

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC world service has on Thursday disclosed that about 400 of its staff will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms,

The BBC said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of wider reductions of £500 million.

In July it detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.

BBC World Service currently operates in 40 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.

 

Continue Reading

Environment

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241km/h (150mph).

Dramatic scenes saw a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out of the ground.

The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, Floridians were warned that the most dangerous 24 hours lay ahead and the mayor of Tampa urged people to shelter in place through the night into Thursday morning.

“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Weather Prediction Center told residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

Residents were ordered to leave their homes, but many have decided to remain and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river,” he said in a text message to the Associated Press news agency.

In Lee County – the south-west region where Ian made landfall – police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a petrol station because of the storm damage.

As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated”. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State Governor Ron DeSantis described Ian as the “biggest flood event” south-west Florida had ever seen, and announced that 7,000 National Guard troops are ready to lead rescue operations in flood zones.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ian is now continuing to move north through Florida. Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

The storm is forecast to emerge into the Atlantic by Thursday morning.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Cuba’s western coast was hit by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. Power has now been restored in some areas after the island was plunged into a total blackout. Two people are understood to have been killed in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea.

Predicted path of Hurricane Ian. Updated 27 September

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending