Campaigners have said LGBTQ+ folk “deserve better” after conversion therapy was left out of the King’s Speech.
In what was the first King’s Speech in seven decades, King Charles unveiled several of the government’s policies for the upcoming year. These included the Terrorism Bill, also known as Martyn's Law, to ensure concert venues will have to meet new criteria to diminish the impact of a terrorist attack following the Manchester Arena bombing and Olivia's Law, which will force convicted criminals to be in court for their sentencing after Thomas Cashman refused to attend.
The speech, which was written by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak but delivered by the King, made no mention of banning the horrific practice of conversion therapy. The outdated practice aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and can include anything from violent electroshock therapy to hypnosis.
In the case of The Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry, which had a branch on Breck Road, Anfield, gay people were offered the chance to “cure” themselves of their homosexuality through a relentless prayer session involving three days without food or water.
CEO and co-founder of LCR Pride Foundation, Andi Herring, told the ECHO: “Once again, we are seeing a total ban on conversion therapy being pushed further and further down the list of priorities, with some in our government trying to remove it entirely from the agenda.
“There should be no debate on if the bill is 'complete enough', as only a total ban on all conversion therapy practices is acceptable. We continue to urge the government to deliver this ban and encourage our communities to make their voices heard about this too."
Robbie de Santos, from Stonewall – the largest LGBT rights organisation in Europe – expressed a similar sentiment. The director of external affairs said: “The UK Government's failure to deliver a ban on conversion practices after five years of promises is an act of frightful negligence – in doing so, it has given the green light for the abuse against LGBTQ+ people to continue unchecked.
“Rather than getting mired in a cynical cultural war, the UK Government should be making decisions based on what the evidence and expertise said. England and Wales' 1.5 million LGBTQ+ people, and their families, deserve better."
The ECHO previously reported on two Merseyside-based residents and their experiences of the practice including an artist who had his head “pushed into church grounds with a bible” and a mum who had a group pray for the “lesbian demons” to leave her body.
The pseudoscientific practice was first promised to be banned in 2018 by then-Prime Minister Theresa May. Boris Johnson said he would do the same, however, defended the decision not to include trans people in the ban claiming there were "complexities and sensitivities" which needed to be worked through. Now, as it stands, Rishi Sunak is the fourth Prime Minister to say he will end conversion therapy.
Liverpool-based soap, Hollyoaks, is currently highlighting the dangers of conversion therapy to its audience. The long-running E4 show’s storyline has seen actor and campaigner David Ames join the show in the role of headteacher Carter Shepherd – who has ambitions beyond education as he has begun offering self-growth sessions. However, a “more sinister agenda” will appear throughout the autumn season.
The 40-year-old, best known for his portrayal of Dominic Copeland in medical drama Holby City, told the ECHO: “Conversion therapy specifically is constantly battered back and we’re told ‘we aren’t going to be able to do that now’ or ‘actually we will but we are going to exclude trans people'. It’s just this constant vilification of members of our community and the government is taking away choices for people.
“We need all the rights and protections right now. We shouldn’t have kids being bullied into going to meetings where they are told they don’t have an inalienable right to be who they are – to use a word that Margaret Thatcher liked to use.”