On Tuesday, July 3, it was announced that the British government has made plans to outlaw conversion therapy across the entire nation.
The decision, which coincided with British PRIDE week, follows a shocking national poll of LGBTQ individuals which "found [that] 2% of the 108,000 respondents had undergone conversion therapy while 5% had been offered it."
Two thirds of respondents also claimed to avoid holding hands with their same-sex partner in public for fear of discrimination.
Prime Minister Theresa May was "struck by just how many respondents said they cannot be open about their sexual orientation or avoid holding hands with their partner in public for fear of a negative reaction."
No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love. This LGBT action plan will set out concrete steps to deliver real and lasting change across society, from health and education to tackling discrimination and addressing the burning injustices that LGBT people face."
Conversion therapy relies on the idea that homosexuality is a mental illness with a "cure." However, the World Health Organization "declassified homosexuality a mental condition in 1992." What's more, there is absolutely no evidence that conversion therapy is effective, and it is often discredited by reputable medical institutions.
Ruth Hunt, chief executive of the British LGBT rights group Stonewall, believes this is a great first step in the right direction, but there's still much to be done:
Some people will be shocked by the findings. But for anyone who is LGBT, or has a family member or friend who is, these results will be sadly recognizable...Laws have improved and attitudes have changed but our society still treats LGBT people like second-class citizens.
The survey revealed several other shocking details: "40% of those who responded had experienced hate incidents, with nine out of 10 going unreported." 67% of transgender respondents had avoided being open about their identities. CNN reports that:
The survey also uncovered discrimination in the workplace, with 23% of respondents reporting that they had received negative reactions from colleagues.
The proposed ban on conversion therapy is such a good thing, but it will only be a ban on conversion therapy if the government understands that rushing gender-non-confirming children towards transition *is* conversion therapy.— Sarah Ditum (@sarahditum) July 3, 2018
Penny Mordaunt, England's Minister for Women and Equalities, may have said it best:
Everyone in this country should feel safe and happy to be who they are, and to love who they love, without judgment or fear.
I am incredibly proud of the UK's global leadership on LGBT equality and the fact that this is the largest survey of its kind, but many of the results are very disturbing.
It's unacceptable that people feel they cannot hold hands with their partner in public, and that they are unable to walk down the street without fear of abuse. It is also deeply worrying that LGBT people experience difficulty accessing public services such as health care, and that so many are being offered the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy