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The Government’s plans to ban conversion therapy raise serious free speech concerns

The UK Government has published a Conversion Therapy (Prohibition) Bill. The aim of the Bill is to ban ‘conversion therapy’, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, raising concerns around potential impacts on free speech. The Free Speech Union encourages its members to express these concerns to their MPs. While most agree with banning harmful practices like pseudo-scientific ‘treatments’ or ‘re-education’ camps, there is apprehension that the ban will extend beyond these methods, potentially limiting free speech.

Current laws already prohibit such harmful practices, and studies show that conversion therapy is not widespread in the UK. The main concern we have is that the definition of ‘conversion therapy’, while tightly focused in the Bill at present, could be expanded during the Bill’s passage through Parliament to include benign conversations around sexuality or gender identity. This might result in criminalising personal advice, parental guidance, or religious teachings.

The possibility that the ban might include conversations between parents and children about gender identity is particularly concerning. We worry that the Bill will be amended on its way to becoming law so parents could face legal action for dissuading their children from undergoing significant medical procedures. Similarly, medical professionals might be obligated to dismiss treatment they believe to be in the best interest of their trans patients.

Given the severity of these implications, the Free Speech Union is urging members to write to their MPs to highlight these concerns. We need to make sure that freedom of speech remains protected, particularly in sensitive and potentially life-altering circumstances.

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Here’s how you can take action

We strongly urge you to voice your concerns about the proposed ‘conversion therapy’ ban by reaching out to your local MP.

While certain harmful practices should indeed be banned, this legislation could inadvertently infringe on free speech, parental rights, and the ability of medical professionals to provide appropriate care. It’s essential that we communicate these concerns to our representatives to ensure they understand the potential ramifications and take them into account during the legislative process.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the form below. It’s a simple, fast process that can have a significant impact. We’ve even provided a template to help, but feel free to personalise it with your concerns. Your voice matters and this is an important opportunity to make it heard.

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