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The terms ‘conversion practices’ and ‘conversion therapy’ refer to coercive practices that aim to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Since 2018, successive UK governments have described these practices as abhorrent and committed to introducing legislation to ban them.

Some conversion practices may already be illegal. For example, where they involve violence. However, the Government has argued that the current criminal law does not prohibit all conversion practices, particularly those that involve coercive talking therapies that assume one particular sexuality or gender identity is preferable to another.

Harms associated with conversion therapy

There is a scientific consensus that conversion therapies are not effective at changing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and risk causing mental health problems.

In 2021 the Government commissioned academics from Coventry University to undertake a ‘rapid evidence assessment’ of the international research literature on conversion therapy. The assessment found that the balance of evidence indicated conversion practices were associated with negative health outcomes.

Some have criticised this study, drawing attention to methodological weaknesses in the evidence and the difficulty distinguishing causation from correlation.

Government proposals

On 29 October 2021 the Government published a consultation on banning conversion therapy. The consultation document stated that the evidence was clear that conversion therapy does not work and can cause long lasting damage to those who go through it. The consultation ran until 4 February 2022. The Government’s response has not yet been published.

During the session of Parliament that ended on 26 October 2023 the Government said it would, before the end of the session, publish a draft bill to prohibit conversion therapy. A draft bill has not yet been published.

More recently, in December 2023, the Government said it would publish a draft bill for pre-legislative scrutiny by a joint committee of both Houses in early 2024.

Devolved administrations


On 9 January 2024 the Scottish Government published a consultation on ending conversion practices in Scotland. The consultation closes on 2 April 2024. The consultation followed a report from 4 October 2022 by the Scottish Government’s Expert Advisory Group on Ending Conversion Practices. The report recommended that conversion practices that seek to “change, suppress and/or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression” should be a criminal offence in Scotland.


The Welsh Government’s LGBTQ+ Action Plan for Wales, published 7 January 2023, included a commitment to “Ban all aspects of LGBTQ+ Conversion Practices”.

The Welsh Government has repeatedly called for legislation to prohibit conversion practices. Criminal law is not devolved in Wales, so new criminal laws must be passed by the UK Parliament. 

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Assembly passed a non-binding motion on 20 April 2021 on conversion therapy calling on the Minister for Communities to commit to banning conversion therapy.

Private Members’ Bills

There are currently two Private Members’ Bills before Parliament on the subject, one in the House of Commons and one in the House of Lords.

On 6 December 2023 the Conversion Practices (Prohibition) Bill was presented to the House of Commons, sponsored by Lloyd Russell Moyle MP (Labour (Co-op)). Its second reading date is scheduled for 1 March 2024.

On 20 November 2023, Baroness Burt of Solihull (Lib Dem) introduced a Private Members’ Bill to the House of Lords, the Conversion Therapy Prohibition (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Bill [HL]. The Bill had its second reading on 9 February 2024.

Stakeholder views

There is widespread, but not universal, support for prohibiting coercive practices that attempt to change a person’s sexuality based on the assumption that one sexual orientation is preferable to another. Proposals to prohibit conversion practices in relation to gender identity are more controversial.

Some groups argue that a prohibition of conversion practices could encroach upon the freedom of clinicians, teachers, religious practitioners or others to help individuals understand their sexuality or gender identity.

Health, counselling and psychotherapy organisations have generally opposed conversion therapy, but they have also drawn attention to the risk of conflating it with neutral psychotherapies intended to help people with their mental health, which might include discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity.

A wide range of religious organisations support a ban on conversion therapy, although some oppose a ban that applies to talking therapy, or object to the idea of a ban entirely, arguing that existing legal protections are sufficient.

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