Carrie Johnson praises plans to ban ‘conversion therapy’ – despite repeated delays

Carrie Johnson praises plans to ban ‘conversion therapy’ – despite repeated delays
Ms Johnson claims husband, Boris, is ‘completely committed’ to LGBT+ rights

Carrie Johnson has praised government plans to ban conversion therapy, despite campaigners repeatedly expressing frustration over multiple delays on the issue since a commitment was first made in 2018.

The environmental campaigner, who is married to the prime minister, made the remarks at an LGBT+ reception on the penultimate day of the Conservative Party conference, and also stressed “there was still a long way to go” on LGBT+rights.

Defending her husband’s track record on LGBT+ rights, with the prime minister often criticised over his reference to gay men as “tank-top bum boys” in a newspaper column, Ms Johnson claimed he was “completely committed” to protecting the gains of the community and extending them further.

“The government he leads is banning conversion therapy, rolling out PrEP on the NHS in England to eliminate HIV transmission,” she told delegates in her only public remarks at the conference.

The commitment to ban so-called conversion therapy — a discredited practice which seeks to suppress an individual’s sexual or gender identity — was first made by Theresa May in 2018, but the government is yet to introduce legislation.

The equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch, told MPs a consultation would begin on the issue in September, but it is now not expected to start until at least the end of October, leading to renewed criticism over the extra delay.

And just last week a major report into the issue, signed by leading lawyers and cross-party MPs, demanded swift action from the government, warning that further lives risk being damaged and lost by the “inhumane” practices.

Ministers have also faced intense criticism from LGBT+ campaigners after the decision last summer to drop plans to allow transgender people to self-identify without a medical diagnosis — two years after minsters signalled the change.

While referencing the work the government has done and plans in the future on LGBT+ issues, Ms Johnson went on: “But for all the progress we have made as a society, we know there is still a long way to go.”

“The LGBT+ community still faces stigma, harassment and discrimination, with hate crimes still a fact of life.

“Around the world being LGBT+ is still a crime in 71 countries — in 11 counties it is punishable by death, just because of who you love. None of this is acceptable obviously, but it is up to all of us to stand up and say so as loudly as we can.

“That’s why it is so important that the UK will be hosting its first ever global conference of LGBT+ rights next year. So whether it’s about ending prejudice at home or abroad, LGBT+ Conservatives champion all these issues — so please keep doing what you are doing.”

To huge applause on Tuesday, Ms Johnson also said it was “blatantly untrue” that being LGBT+ and being a Conservative was “somehow incompatible”.

“The idea that sexual orientation or your gender identity should determine your politics is now as illogical as saying your height or hair colour should,” she added.

“Whether you are LGBT+, or an ally like me, we are all committed to equality and acceptable for everyone, whoever you are, and whoever you love.”