UK Government held secret meeting with conversion therapy group

The UK Government is reported to have held secret talks with Northern Irish based conversion therapy providers despite a promise to ban the practice.

Split screen with head shot of leader of conversion therapy provider, Core Issues Trust and an image of the front of number 10 Downing Street, the home of the leader of the UK Government
Image: Left: Twitter: @CConcern, Right: Wikimedia Commons

Following last week’s announcement of a proposed bill on conversion therapy, it has emerged that the UK Government held secret talks with conversion therapy providers.

Last Friday, October 29, the UK Government announced a proposed bill to implement new restrictions on the practice of conversion therapy. However, despite the Tory Government’s 2018 commitment to ban the practice, the proposal falls short of an outright ban. 

Instead, the proposal recommends that ‘therapies’ will only be banned for people under the age of 18, while it will still be made available to consenting adults who actively seek it.

According to a report in Vice World News, the government’s Equality Minister, Kemi Badenoch held a meeting with 10 members of the ‘ex-gay community’, on behalf of a charity called Core Issues Trust.

Based in Northern Ireland, Core Issues Trust is considered to be one of the largest groups in support of conversion therapy in the UK and has come under scrutiny over the last year.

The charity practice what they call “talking therapy” for people who want to “explore moving away from unwanted same-sex attraction and gender confusion”.

In July 2020, it was reported that Barclays bank closed their bank account, despite a 70,000-strong petition in support of the group.

The move came following a decision by Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms to ban the group’s content and services for the promotion of conversion therapies. 

According to the Vice report, the meeting between Government representatives and Core Issues Trust took place last July, following years of lobbying by the group for the government to meet with them. They maintain that this is the first time a UK government has even met with any ‘ex-LGBT’ activists.

One of the charity’s representatives described the meeting as “productive”, adding that the government advisers “listened respectfully”.

As well as the meeting, Core Issues Trust is reported to have its new book X-Out-Loud: Emerging Ex-LGBT Voices to every UK Member of Parliament. The book features 44 stories from people who claim they are “former homosexuals” or that they turned away from “LGBT lifestyles”. 

The conservative government are currently holding a six-week consultation period, whereby members of the public are encouraged to engage with the proposal and voice their opinion.

Stonewall chief executive, Nancy Kelley, suggests it “will allow individuals to express their views on these proposals, presenting a vital opportunity for the public and key stakeholders to work with the government to develop an effective ban.” 

A Core Issues Trust representative also reported to Vice, that during the July meeting, they had been “encouraged to participate in the upcoming public consultation on conversion therapy”. 

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