Millions of people from the LGBT community have been “betrayed” and “thrown under the bus” by Boris Johnson after he U-turned on a pledge to ban so-called conversion therapy, campaigners have said.
Jayne Ozanne, an LGBT rights activist within the Church of England, said the Prime Minister has “shown his true colors with regard to the LGBT community” and the decision will “horrify people right across the country”.
Ms Ozanne is also chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition and was a member of the Government’s LGBT advisory panel until she quit last year, accusing ministers of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT people.
Mental health charity Mind and the British Medical Association (BMA) have also strongly condemned the move.
Ms Ozanne told the PA news agency: “I am deeply concerned about the impact this will have on vulnerable LGBT people who have been thrown under the bus by the Prime Minister.
“He does not seem to care about the harm and abuse that so many people we know are currently facing.
“His own research has shown that the primary form of conversion therapy in the UK today is religious conversion therapy, and there are no protections for any dodgy people in that regard.
“The international community have all called for a ban, the medical professions have called for a ban, church leaders and religious leaders across the faith groups have called for a ban.
“I do not understand why the Prime Minister has refused to listen to them and shown callous disregard for the LGBT community.”
She added: “This is the Prime Minister’s decision and the Prime Minister has shown his true colors with regard to the LGBT community.
“I think he thought he could get away with it, but this will horrify, I am sure, people right across the country who have believed frankly for years that this should have been banned.”
Ms Ozanne described the Government’s proposal of using “non-legislative measures” to combat so-called LGBT conversion therapy as a “soft measure” which “will not get perpetrators to stop”.
She told PA that Mr Johnson was handed a “very clear case for proposals on how he could effectively ban conversion therapy” compiled by “some of the most senior international human rights lawyers”.
Ms Ozanne said: “He has the answers in a document already handed to him. He just needs to have the political will to do it.”
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, also described the U-turn as a “betrayal to millions of LGBTQIA+ people.”
He said in a statement: “If these reports are true, this is a deeply regressive move by the UK Government and a betrayal to millions of LGBTQIA+ people.
“People do not need to be ‘cured’.
“Conversion ‘therapy’ is harmful and has a terrible impact on a person’s mental health, and people who have been subject to these practices go on to experience poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety and self-hatred.
“Existing laws and policies have failed to protect people from conversion therapy.
“We will continue to fight for the banning of these practices and will make sure the UK Government understands once again just how vital this ban is. Anything other than an outright ban is an abject failure.”
Dr Latifa Patel, interim chair of the BMA’s representative body, urged the Government to ban the “warped, backward ideology” of conversion therapy.
She said in a statement: “It is absolutely disgraceful that Government has reportedly abandoned its pledge to ban so-called conversion therapy.
“Its practice is unethical, harmful, and has been repeatedly discredited as having no scientific basis whatsoever.
“This warped, backward ideology has no place in modern society or healthcare.
“The BMA has remained firm in its opposition to this barbaric practice, and we implore the Government to stick to its promises and introduce a total ban of conversion therapy as soon as possible.”