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Statement on Government decision not to outlaw trans conversion ‘therapy’

The Anna Freud Centre is dismayed at the Government’s decision to abandon its commitment to fully outlaw conversion therapy. The Centre is absolutely opposed to conversion ‘therapy’ and believes that all young people should be free to be who they are without any pressure to change, suppress, or deny their sexual or gender identity.

The Government had promised to ban all conversion ‘therapy’ but was discovered to backtrack on its pledge last night before reviewing its position and agreeing to ban gay conversion ‘therapy’ hours later. However, the decision not to ban trans conversion ‘therapy’ was not reversed. The decision was made on the day celebrating Trans Day of Visibility.

As an organisation that believes in using evidence-based therapeutic interventions to alleviate distress, the Anna Freud Centre believes that conversion ‘therapy’ is potentially harmful and is not appropriately associated with mental health treatments. The Centre utterly rejects the implication that being trans is a form of distress that requires therapeutic intervention. We believe that the best way to reduce the high levels of distress that the trans community experiences is to challenge the discrimination, prejudice and violence that they disproportionately experience, to accept and celebrate people for who they are and who they want to be.

Evidence shows that conversion ‘therapy’ does real harm to the lives of people who have been exposed to it and leads to higher levels of anxiety, depression and lower levels of self-esteem for many, and more severe and enduring mental health needs for some.

Last year the Anna Freud Centre welcomed the Government’s consultation and its stated intent to ban all conversion ‘therapy’. To help all children and young people to thrive and achieve their own goals in life, we wholeheartedly supported strengthening their proposals to ban, without exception, hurting children, young people, and adults under the guise of conversion 'therapy' in any setting and we call on the Government to rethink its position.

Anyone who would like further support on the any of the topics raised in this statement can contact any of the following organisations:

Further information on the damage caused by conversion therapy is available here.