11.04.22 – Protesters in their thousands marched on Downing Street on Sunday in response to the government’s omission of transgender people from its proposed ban on conversion therapy.
Last week, the government volte-faced on its initial aims to drop the ban altogether, instead opting only to outlaw the practice for lesbian, gay or bisexual people – with transgender people the notable exclusion.
According to the Ban Conversion Therapy campaign group, over 3,000 activists attended the demonstration in London, whilst similar acts were organised in Dublin and Belfast the same day.
“It doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense”, says Annelies Whitley, a transgender woman and activist. Holding a banner that reads ‘No Ban Without Trans’, she explained:
“Deciding to overlook the trans community in this ban is a baseless and dangerous signal to the rest of the country, and the world, that trans people do not deserve the same rights as everybody else.”
The prime minister has supported the decision suggesting trans conversion therapies are a “legally complex area”, but the move has led to the “dismayed” response of its LGBT+ adviser, Nick Herbert, who said politics has no place in the trans debate.
Additionally, the dispute has forced government to cancel the Safe to Be Me international conference on LGBT+ rights, the first of its kind in the UK, as 90 groups due to take part plan to boycott the summer event.
According to research by Stop Hate UK, hate crimes against transgender people have been increasing year on year, whilst members of this part of the wider LGBT+ community are the most likely to be threatened, harassed, or assaulted – a point which has spurred calls for unity.
Iain Andersen, who yesterday resigned from his role as the government’s LGBT+ Business Champion said in an open letter: “politics which creates a dividing line between LGB people and trans people will never be my approach.”
He added, “Now – more than ever – we need tolerance and respect.”
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