LGBTQ+ campaigners have said the lack of a Government ban on conversion therapy has given the “green light for the abuse” to continue “unchecked”.
A ban was first promised by Theresa May’s Conservative government in 2018, before it was downgraded to not include transgender people by Boris Johnson.
Rishi Sunak also announced plans to make the practice - which seeks to change someone’s gender identity or sexuality - illegal for “everyone” in January.
However, campaigners have now accused the Government of “further dehumanisation” after plans for a ban were not heard in the King’s speech outlining legislation proposals for the year ahead.
Campaigners accused the Government of “frightful negligence”.
“The UK Government’s failure to deliver a ban on conversion practices after five years of promises is an act of frightful negligence - in doing so, it has given the green light for the abuse against LGBTQ+ people to continue unchecked,” Robbie de Santos, Director of External Affairs at Stonewall said.
He added: “Rather than getting mired in a cynical cultural war, the UK Government should be making decisions based on what the evidence and expertise said. England and Wales’ 1.5 million LGBTQ+ people, and their families, deserve better.”
While previously describing the practice as “abhorrent”, the Government has previously added that it is still “carefully considering this very complex issue”.
Asked about a ban, a spokesman for the Government on Tuesday reiterated that the issue is “complex” and said it is “important we don’t do anything that has unintended consequences in our approach”.
Campaign group Ban Conversion Therapy said the lack of a ban showed a “callous disregard for LGBTQ+ people” in the UK.
Meanwhile, campaigner Jayne Ozanne said that she believed the Government has “chosen to prioritise appeasing perpetrators” by dropping the ban.
She added that the decision was a “total moral failure” that “will be remembered for years to come, it will take generations for LGBT+ people to trust government again.”
The UK Govt's failure to #BanConversionTherapy in the #KingsSpeech shows a callous disregard for LGBTQ+ people living in this country, who will now remain at risk of these abusive practices.
We will continue to campaign for a ban that protects us all.https://t.co/LA5bKlUVjd
— BanConversionTherapy (@BanCTorg) November 7, 2023
Last week an open letter signed by over 20 celebrities including broadcaster Rylan Clark and singer Jade Thirwall warned that not introducing a ban immediately would be “inherently homophobic”.
Mr Sunak has been warned that Tory MPs could rebel by trying to force a ban on conversion therapy through parliament.
Elliot Colburn, a Tory MP who has campaigned for the practice to be outlawed.
He said that rebels were considering a plan to amend different legislation, such as a law and order bill, to call for a ban to protect gay and transgender people. “We’re looking at every possible opportunity and we’re definitely not going to let this drop.”
Meanwhile, Labour has pledged to introduce a “no loopholes” trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy.