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Decision to exclude transgender people from conversion therapy ban is deeply worrying, says BPS

04 April 2022

The exclusion of transgender people from the ban on conversion therapy is deeply worrying and leaves transgender people at risk of harm, warns the BPS.

The BPS is clear that any ban on conversion therapy should include transgender people.

Dr Adam Jowett, chair of the BPS’ Sexualities Section, said:

“The government's own research found that transgender people were more likely to have undergone or been offered conversion therapy.

Similar practices are often used in conversion therapy for both sexual orientation and gender identity and both are associated with psychological harm.  

There are some legislative complexities in this area but many bans on conversion therapy elsewhere in the world address both sexual orientation and gender identity.

Transgender people must have the safety to explore their feelings free from coercion and deserve the same protections from degrading treatment as anyone else".  

The BPS is clear that conversion therapy is unethical and potentially harmful, in line with the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy which the BPS has signed.

Conversion therapy refers to attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, based on the assumption that being LGBT+ should be ‘cured’.

In its response to the government's public consultation, the BPS stated that proposals should seek to protect all who are at risk of harm from conversion therapy.

The society also made clear that it is important that the legislation does not interfere with competent professionals from engaging in ethical forms of identity exploration and clinical assessments. So-called 'conversion therapy' is not an ethical form of identity exploration and is not backed by evidence.

The BPS reiterates its position that the government should seek to ensure transgender people are equally protected from harmful conversion therapy practices.

The society is ready to assist UK government and governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure that any proposed ban is workable and effective at protecting all.  

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