Javid Claims Excluding Trans People From Conversion Therapy Ban Is 'Sensitive' Approach

The issue has sparked fury from Tory MPs who have called on the government to "have some empathy".
Health Secretary Sajid Javid
Health Secretary Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid today claimed the controversial decision to exclude transgender people from the conversion therapy ban was a “sensitive approach”.

The health secretary said the practice should be banned for LGB people but doubled down on the decision to exclude trans people.

It comes as the government is under fire from Conservative MPs over its move to exclude transgender people from the ban, with one pleading with them to “have some empathy”.

“I think it is right to take the approach that we have which is to ban conversion therapy for LGB but to take a much more sort of sensitive approach when it comes to trans.”

- Health secretary Sajid Javid

Conversion therapy is an attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The government had promised to outlaw it but last week revealed the ban would only apply to sexuality, not attempts to change someone’s gender identity.

The move prompted nearly 100 leading organisations to pull out of the government’s flagship equality conference.

Embarrassingly for No10, the event called Safe To Be Me looks set to collapse.

Asked why transgender people will still undergo conversion therapy, Javid told Sky News: “When it comes to trans, I do think that we need to be more careful.

“In my mind is, for example, the recent report by Dr Hilary Cass, she’s one of the most experienced paediatricians in this country, she just published an interim report just a few weeks ago.

“She talked about how the children and young people when they say they have gender dysphoria, it is right for medical experts to be able to question that and to determine what the cause might be, is it a genuine case of gender identity dysphoria?

“Or could it be that that individual is suffering from some child sex abuse, for example, or could it be linked to bullying?

“So I think it is right to take the approach that we have which is to ban conversion therapy for LGB but to take a much more sort of sensitive approach when it comes to trans.”

The health secretary was asked if it was acceptable to administer an electric shock to someone who feels that they are in the wrong body, to which he replied: “No, I don’t think so. No, no, of course not.”

When pressed further, Javid said “I don’t think that anyone should be administered with electric shock”, adding: “I think that would count as abuse and it would already be against the law.”

It comes after Iain Anderson, the UK’s LGBT business champion, quit his role on Tuesday as he accused the government of engaging in a “woke war”.

He said ministers were trying to “drive a wedge” between trans, lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

The UK’s first openly trans MP Jamie Wallis said he was “bitterly disappointed” by his own government’s decision to scrap the ban on trans conversion therapy.

He added: “It is wrong to exclude protections for a whole group of people from a practice described as ‘abhorrent’.”

Commenting after the collapse of the Safe To Be Me conference, Tory “red wall” MP Dehenna Davison said: “We had such a huge opportunity to prove the UK (and the Conservative Party) is a defender of freedom.

“As a Conservative member of the LGBT+ community, it is so wrong it has come to this.”

Meanwhile, public administration committee chair and Tory MP William Wragg added: “If banning conversion therapy will stop the likes of me being subjected to mental cruelty in repressing my true self, why not so for someone who is trans?

“I can see no logic in excluding trans people from legislation banning conversion therapy. Let’s have some empathy.”

A spokesperson said the government would carry out “separate work” on the issue of transgender conversion therapy but it was keen for any legislative method brought forward not to have “unintended consequences”, adding it was a “legally complex area”.


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