Further Blow As Government's LGBT Champion Resigns Over Conversion Therapy Chaos

Iain Anderson said the decision to exclude trans people from the conversion therapy ban was "deeply damaging".
More than 80 leading organisations have said they will no longer attend the government’s flagship equality conference, due to be held in June.

The government has been dealt a blow after its LGBT business champion resigned in protest at the decision to water down a conversion therapy ban.

Boris Johnson has caused a backlash after he revealed the government would not go ahead with plans to ban conversion therapy for trans people.

The U-turn has seen the government’s LGBT strategy plunged into chaos.

And now Iain Anderson has resigned from his post after criticising the “deeply damaging” move to exclude trans people from protections from conversion therapy.

In a letter to Boris Johnson posted on Twitter, Anderson wrote: “It has been the honour of my life to serve as the UK’s first-ever LGBT+ business champion.

“However, I feel I have no choice but to tender my resignation from this role.

“I do this with a very heavy heart.

“As a young gay man I lived through fear and oppression under the backdrop of Section 28. I could never have dreamt then that a government — any government —would appoint an LGBT+ champion later in my lifetime.

“However the recent leaking of a plan to drop the government’s flagship legislation protecting LGBT+ people from conversion therapy was devastating. Conversion therapy is abhorrent.”

He added: “Only hours later to see this plan retracted but briefing take place that trans people would be excluded from the legislation and therefore not have the same immediate protections from this practice was deeply damaging to my work.”

A government spokesperson said: “We thank Iain for his contributions as LGBT Business Champion.

“The government has a proud record on LGBT rights and we remain committed to building upon that work with sensitivity and care.”

Conversion therapy is the use of methods, such as aversive stimulation or religious counselling, to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender.

The government pledged to end the practice in 2018, under Theresa May, but last week ITV reported the promise was to be abandoned completely.

A government spokesman initially confirmed the plans were being abandoned, citing the cost of living crisis and war in Ukraine as reasons to “rationalise our legislative programme”.

However, within hours of the announcement it was revealed legislation would be included in the Queen’s Speech in May – but trans conversion therapy would be excluded.

Explaining the government’s position, Nikki da Costa, a former director of legislative affairs at Downing Street, said she believed including trans people in the ban could have had “profound consequences for children struggling with gender dysphoria”.

She told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “Doctors, therapists and parents would be deterred from exploring with a child any feelings of what else may be going on for fear of being told they’re trying to change a child’s identity.”


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