Why Conversion Therapy Needs to be Banned Now

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The consequences of conversion therapy are devastating and far reaching.

The below briefing has been prepared by Jonathan Cooper OBE, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers. It sets out why permitting conversion therapy and any attempt to erase, repress or change the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of a person amounts to a serious and systemic human rights violation.

Conversion therapy violates rights which are absolutely protected. There can be no defence to subjecting someone to inhuman and degrading treatment, which includes a duty to protect against such unlawful conduct. Furthermore, defending conversion therapy on the basis of freedom of expression or belief, as it appears Kemi Badenoch and other Conservative Ministers seem to be hesitating on, is fundamentally wrong. In the context of competing rights, the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment, human dignity and core aspects of privacy rights trump freedom of expression rights and the right to manifest belief.

It has been encouraging to see the Labour Party pledge to ban conversion therapy in office, but we strongly believe that there are no justifications for delays - now. The British state is required to act and to ban it and the total ban on conversion therapy needs to be made law as soon as is practicable and brought into effect.

The state has a positive obligation to prohibit such treatment and deny access to it. To put it simply, the state cannot permit individuals to undertake conduct that would amount to prohibited ill treatment, enforced labour, arbitrary detention and which may lead to a violation of the right to life. There must be zero tolerance for conversion therapy, however it is manifested.

We hope this briefing is of use to Labour MPs and others who are committed to introducing the ban. It is long overdue.

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