Hannah Blythyn MS, Deputy Minister for Social Partnership
Yesterday I became aware of UK Government documents and a statement from Downing Street that Prime Minister Boris Johnson intended on abandoning the very clear commitments made to end the draconian practice of conversion ‘therapy.’ It appears today that the rightful public backlash has resulted in a partial reversal of this minus the critical protections that were promised to the Transgender community.
To be clear, the UK Government made a very direct promise. They stated that their proposals would be ‘universal and protect everyone whatever their sexual orientation and whether they are Transgender or not.’
On the day of Transgender Visibility, the Prime Minister chose to abandon the pursuit of protections for a part of our community. This is unacceptable and the partial U-turn is not a victory. The LGBTQ+ community stands as one, and none of us are equal while our rights are up for discussion or barter.
I have written to the UK Government expressing my strongest condemnation of this move and pressed for urgent clarity on their intentions.
Today, I can announce that the Welsh Government will be commissioning urgent legal advice on the unilateral action we are able to take to ban conversion ‘therapy.’ We will do all we can within our devolved powers to protect our LGBTQ+ community. We can no longer have faith that the UK Government will do the same. We will also seek the devolution of any necessary additional powers required to see this through.
Reneging on this commitment represents a grievous and shameful breach of trust given the good faith shown by the LGBTQ+ community and Human Rights campaign organisations. It also signals in no uncertain terms that the UK Government is indifferent to the very real and grave threats that exist to the LGBTQ+ community and those who have suffered.
The commitment to ban conversion ‘therapy’ was made on numerous occasions; In the Queen’s speech, by the Prime Minister, by UK Government Ministers, in recent consultations and through public announcements. It was also a commitment made directly to the Welsh Government and we acted in good faith in the hope this move was a sincere attempt to right a very clear injustice.
It is alarming and shameful to read how the concerns of LGBTQ+ individuals are dismissed by the UK Government as ‘noise’ to be managed. This is wholly unacceptable. The entirely justified backlash expressed by the LGBTQ+ community, friends, families, allies and Welsh Government will be far more than noise to be managed.