More Than 80 Groups Pull Out Of Government LGBTQ+ Conference Over Conversion Row

The boycott was described as "hugely embarrassing" for the government.
Protester on 21st October 2021 in London, United Kingdom.
Protester on 21st October 2021 in London, United Kingdom.
Mark Kerrison via Getty Images

The government’s flagship equality conference was plunged into chaos today after more than 80 leading organisations pulled out.

The groups withdrew their support from the LGBTQ+ conference “Safe To Be Me 2022”, due to be held in June, after the government decided to exclude transgender people from its ban on conversion therapy.

The event was billed by the government as the UK’s first ever global LGBTQ+ conference and was set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first official London Pride.

However, 82 LGBTQ+ and HIV charities and organisations are now refusing to be involved.

It comes after ITV News revealed the government’s plans to scrap a ban on conversion therapy - which attempts to change or suppress someone’s sexuality or gender identity and is already outlawed in several other countries.

Hours later the government performed a partial U-turn, recommitting to banning conversion therapy but crucially not including transgender conversion therapy.

The LGBTQ+ Consortium, an umbrella group for LGBTQ+ organisations, shared a statement from Stonewall that said: “Due to the prime minister’s broken promise on protecting trans people from the harms of conversion therapy, we regret that we are withdrawing Stonewall’s support for the UK government’s Safe To Be Me conference.

“We will only be able to participate if the prime minister reverts to his promise for a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy.”

Stonewall said it was “appalling” that the PM would “so casually” walk away from four years of promises to the LGBTQ+ community.

The statement added: “It is apparent that trans people have once again been sacrificed for political gain. Commissioning a separate body of work to unpick something that has already been resolved many times the world over, can only be read as an attempt to kick the issue of protecting trans people into the long grass. This is callous and unacceptable.”

A government spokesman said: “It is disappointing to see partners withdraw from an international conference focused on the fundamental human rights issues facing LGBT people around the world and which provides a global platform to create positive change.

“The government is now considering how to proceed and will continue to work alongside global forums, including the ERC and EFPN, to convene international partners and drive forward action.

“The UK has a proud history of LGBT rights and the prime minister has been very clear he is committed to bringing forward legislation to ban conversion therapy.

“He has made the point emphatically that people who want to make a transition in their lives should be treated with the maximum possible generosity and respect, but the complexity of issues requires separate work to further consider transgender conversation therapy.”


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