Hundreds gather in Manchester to support trans people amid ‘immoral’ conversion therapy ban exclusion

Hundreds gathered as members of Manchester’s LGBTQ+ community came together to support trans people amid a row over government policy.

Earlier this month, the government confirmed it was still working towards banning gay conversion therapy – the hugely condemned practice of attempting to change someone’s sexuality. But at the same time, the government said it was dropping plans to ban trans conversion therapy – the same practice, but used to change a trans or non-binary person’s gender identity.

The announcement sparked a fierce backlash among LGBTQ+ campaign groups and has led to protest from members of the community, in Manchester and elsewhere in the UK. Today (April 16), hundreds gathered at St Peter’s Square for a demonstration organized by Manchester Trans Rise Up.

READ MORE: Manchester Pride Parade is returning for 2022 after two-year hiatus

Protesters carried trans pride flags and waved placards, with messages including ‘conversion therapy ban for all’ and ‘LGB with the T’. Speakers took turns to address the crowd, receiving warm applause and cheers from others who had gathered.

Transman Torran Turner, 31, told the Manchester Evening News it was important for him to ‘stand up’ for trans rights in his hometown. “There is no ban on conversion therapy that can function or works without including trans people,” he said.

Signs of support for trans people were held up

“It’s a practice which has been thoroughly debunked by every major professional organization in the UK that specializes in psychiatric and psychoanalysis. To ban it for gay and bisexual people but not trans people is staggering – it makes no sense.

“I’m not in danger, no one is trying to convert me. I’m 31, I’ve been out for many years, I’m married, I have a brilliant family. But for kids in particular, vulnerable adults, people just discovering themselves, they might be part of a faith group that says ‘you are not trans’.”

Trans pride and progress pride flags waved at the protest
Trans pride and progress pride flags waved at the protest

Student Amber Heaviside is currently working on a PhD about trans rights. The 25-year-old said: “I’m here with my best friend who is trans. He’s just amazing and I’m here to support him, and everybody here.

“It’s just going to be awful. It’s clear discrimination, it’s immoral, it’s disgusting behavior from the people that are supposed to be protecting our rights – instead they are trying to strip them away from people. It’s just abhorrent.”

Protesters call for trans inclusive conversion therapy ban
Protesters call for trans inclusive conversion therapy ban

The crowd was made up of protesters of all ages – with many younger people joined by some older members of the LGBTQ+ community. As well as trans and non-binary people, there were several lesbian, gay and bisexual people who turned out to show solidarity.

Steven Appleton, 42, said: “I’m here just to lend my voice. I’m part of a privileged section of the LGBTQ+ community.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community gathered at St Peter's Square
Members of the LGBTQ+ community gathered at St Peter’s Square

“A lot of people here who are trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming don’t have that same privilege and are not being afforded the same rights. I feel it is my responsibility to stand up for them and use my voice to uplift their voice.”

Earlier this month, Boris Johnson defended the decision not to pursue a ban on conversion therapy for trans people at the same time as a ban for gay and bisexual people, insisting that a ban on trans conversion therapy would be more complicated. He said: “We will have a ban on gay conversion therapy, which to me is utterly abhorrent.

Protesters took turns to speak out at the event
Protesters took turns to speak out at the event

“But there are complexities and sensitivities when you move from the area of ​​sexuality to the question of gender. There, I’m afraid, there are things that I think still need to be worked out. I’m sorry we haven’t been able to reach agreement with the organizations concerned but that will in no way diminish our determination to tackle prejudice wherever we can.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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