With the announcement that the upcoming law banning ‘conversion therapy’ will only apply on grounds of sexual orientation, the UK government has chosen to ignore scientific evidence and governing principles of human rights and justice. By deliberately continuing its policy to pathologize trans and gender diverse communities, the UK government has greenlit further exposure to cruel and damaging treatment for this already marginalized community.
The UK government’s decision is an outright dismissal of the existing scientific evidence that efforts to change sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE) result in life-long severe psychological and emotional distress and trauma, accompanied by alarmingly high rates of suicide. This is a direct result of their decision to side with transphobic hate groups, who use arguments stemming from biological determinism to undermine and roll back the hard-won achievements for equality of LGBTQI individuals and all women, as part of a wider conservative movement to restore traditional social and economic hierarchies.
Conversion practices are premised on centuries-old misogynistic, biological essentialist and colonialist arguments that depict trans and gender diverse identities as abnormal, something from which an individual needs to be cured. These practices are inherently discriminatory and inhumane. This decision is even more shocking as it goes against the UK government’s own research, which clearly demonstrates that trans and gender diverse individuals are much more likely to have undergone, or have been offered, conversion ‘therapy’ practice procedures than the rest of the LGBTQI population.
We stand in solidarity with, and fully support, the decision by LGBTQI groups within the UK to withdraw their support from the “Safe To Be Me” conference organized by the UK Government. This withdrawal of support highlights the hypocrisy of the UK Government in attempting to portray itself as a champion of LGBTQI rights while, simultaneously allowing the oppression of trans and gender diverse people. We call on the UK government to fulfil its commitments made at the international level and act NOW to retract its support for the continued human rights abuses of trans and gender diverse people.