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UK government vows to ban 'abhorrent' gay conversion therapy

UK government vows to ban 'abhorrent' gay conversion therapy
By Emma Beswick
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UK government vows to ban 'abhorrent' gay conversion therapy


The UK government has vowed to eradicate the practice of "conversion therapy" as part of a new action plan aimed at improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The report, published Tuesday, was written based on a survey of 108,000 LGBT people living in the UK — the largest national survey of its kind ever undertaken.

It showed LGBT people are experiencing prejudice on a daily basis: 2% of respondents had undergone and 5% had been offered conversion therapy, the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation from gay or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions.

Two-thirds of LGBT people avoid holding hands in public

More than two in three of those who participated in the survey said they avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner in public for fear of a negative reaction.

"Attitudes have changed but there are still pockets of society where we’re far from safe," said Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, a UK-based, LGBT rights charity.

"The simple act of holding hands is something all same-sex couples do with a high degree of caution."

A further 23% said people at work had reacted negatively to them being LGBT and over half of those who accessed or tried to access mental health services said they had to wait too long.

"The survey has shone a light on the many areas where we can improve the lives of LGBT people," said Prime Minister Theresa May.

"No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love."

The government pledged £4.5 million (€3.8 million) of funding to deliver the 75-point action plan.

One of the measures includes the appoint a national LGBT health adviser who will focus on reducing the health inequalities that people from this community face.

"We’re really pleased that the Government is listening to the thousands upon thousands of LGBT people who responded to this survey," said Hunt.

"We now need people in all of Britain’s communities to also come out for LGBT equality and to stand up against the hate and abuse we face daily."

Bjorn van Roozendaal from ILGA-Europe — an advocacy group promoting LGBTI rights across the EU — also welcomed the UK government's latest commitments.

"Now more than ever, the LGBTI movement needs funding to remain resilient, to strengthen LGBTI communities. It is important to look beyond legislation and support LGBTI movements to build strong and vocal alliances for social justice," he said.

However, he also warned that "much work remains to be done, not only in the UK, but in Europe" and called on governments to "step up their support to LGBTI movement within the European continent."

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