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Tory MPs Back Sir Elton John's Call For Ban On Conversion Therapy

Elton John (Alamy)

3 min read

Tory MPs have backed Sir Elton John's call for a ban on conversion therapy after he expressed his disappointment that the Government had failed to outlaw the practice.

The world-renowned pop star has raised more than £500million through his charity the Sir Elton John AIDS Foundation to help those with or vulnerable to HIV. 

An event on Wednesday at Speakers House in Parliament was hosted in honour of Sir Elton's work in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and was attended by Government ministers, MPs, peers and parliamentary staff. Speakers at the reception included Sir Elton, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, the Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, and Chair of the APPG on HIV and AIDS David Mundell.

When Sir Elton called for a ban on conversion therapy during the reception, he received a rapturous applause, with a number senior Tory MPs seen nodding their heads in apparent agreement.

“More than three years ago, I joined a call for a truly effective ban on conversion therapy,” he said.

“Successive prime ministers have promised to take action and we need to see that… I was disappointed not to see this in the King's Speech.

“If we don't protect LGBTQ plus [people] in Britain, we can't end AIDS here, and we can't end AIDS worldwide.”

Dehenna Davison, Conservative MP for Bishop Auckland, praised Sir Elton for speaking up about the delay to conversion therapy in the UK.

“To be honest, I couldn't have put it better myself," she told PoliticsHome.

“In the UK we have a steadfast record of leading the way and defending LGBT+ rights. It would be a shame for us to lose momentum from the excellent progress we have made.”

One Tory backbencher said the debate around conversion therapy was “frustrating" and praised Sir Elton's intervention which they believed would help add to the “consensus” that the time had come “to deal with these kinds of practices”.

“It's 2023 and we're still talking about whether praying the gay away is a good thing or not,” they said. “Of course it should be banned.” 

Alicia Kearns, Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton, and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, told PoliticsHome the Government needed to press ahead and ban conversion therapy. 

"We’ve promised to do so multiple times, and at a time when LGBTQ+ rights globally are under attack, we need to make absolutely clear that love is not a pathology and that we will protect our LGBTQ communities,” Kearns said. 

Lord Hayward, a Conservative peer, told PoliticsHome: "A friend of mine was subjected 2 conversion therapy. I have been absolutely clear. I want the practice banned and was amongst many of  the Tories present who applauded Sir Elton’s comments."

A Government commitment to ban conversion therapy began in 2018 when former prime minister Theresa May said she would outlaw the practice in England and Wales.

In 2022 it was announced a ban would finally go ahead but would not include transgender people. After months of successive delays The Times reported that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was committed to outlawing conversion therapy including for transgender people.

However, the commitment was never included in the King's Speech. 

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson on Thursday said Sunak had been “very clear” that the practice was “abhorrent”, but wanted to “take the time to get it [the legislation] right”.

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