Munroe Bergdorf, Juno Dawson and Divina De Campo were among the vocal figures protesting the government’s decision.
The government has announced that it will continue with plans to ban so-called conversion therapy for gay or bisexual people in England and Wales – but not for transgender people – having previously said it would scrap the ban entirely.
The government’s national LGBT survey in 2017 found that transgender people were twice as likely to have been offered conversion therapy than their gay and bisexual counterparts.
NHS England and other major psychological bodies in the UK have warned all forms of conversion therapy are “unethical and potentially harmful”.
Under Theresa May’s leadership in 2018, the Conservative Party pledged to end “conversion” therapies which seek to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
This promise was echoed by Boris Johnson in 2020 and in May 2021, the Queen’s Speech reiterated that measures would be “brought forward” to ban it.
In October 2021, Liz Truss, who as equalities minister drafted the original policy, stated “there should be no place for the abhorrent practice”.
However, leaked documents suggested that the prime minister had decided against making it a crime to seek to change someone’s sexual orientation, citing the need to review “how existing law can be deployed more effectively” to stop the practice.
After fierce backlash from campaigners and MP, the prime minister reversed the plan to keep so-called gay conversion therapy legal. The legislation will mean therapy to attempt to change people’s sexuality will be outlawed, but those practices carried out to try to change people’s gender identity will not, a move that has led to further outcry from the LGBT+ community.
Stylist has contacted Downing Street for comment.
Transgender children’s charity Mermaids condemned “the government’s decision to back-track on its promises to the LGBT+ communities to ban all forms of conversion abuse”. “By actively excluding trans and non-binary people from the ban, the government has decided to condone conversion abuse for our community,” it said in a statement.
Mental health charity Mind called it “reprehensible decision”, writing: “The Government’s own research suggests that trans people are much more likely to have undergone, or been offered, conversion therapy, so this exclusion simply makes no sense.
“The Government cannot simply give up on trans people because protecting them is legislatively complex. Bans that include trans people have been implemented in other countries. Trans people deserve better. We need a complete ban, without loopholes, which protects everybody.”
Author Juno Dawson expressed her sadness at the news, tweeting: “For the government to admit conversion therapy is cruel and harmful but NOT protect trans people from it has left me totally broken. I don’t really know what to do anymore.”
“None of us are safe unless we are all safe. Conversion therapy cannot be damaging a cruel for one set of people but not for another. Resist this governments cynical and coordinated attack on trans people,” shared drag queen Divina De Campo.
Leader of the Women’s Equality Party Mandu Reid wrote: “Excluding trans people from the ban on conversion therapy is deeply disturbing, wrong, and totally unjustified.
This is not an April Fools Day joke - it’s this Govt using the bluntest instrument possible to stoke polarisation and alienate trans people.”
Sharing a message of hope on Instagram, model and activist Munroe Bergdorf added: “Please remember that the gift we will always have is each other. These demons in charge know nothing of community, the power of chosen family or how it feels to know who you are beyond having to oppress and marginalize the identities of those around you in the name of supremacy.
“We’ve always been here and we’ll always be here.”
LGBT+ charity Stonewall urged people to continue putting pressure on the government to ban conversion therapy in its entirety by writing to their MP and joining their ongoing campaign.