Calling for a “truly effective ban on conversion therapy,” a host of actors, artists, musicians, politicians, and activists including Sir Elton John, Dua Lipa, Munroe Bergdorf, Stephen Frye, and others have signed an open letter to the government demanding an immediate ban to the barbaric practice of conversion therapy in the United Kingdom. The letter comes from a new group Ban Conversion Therapy. In addition, Instagram has confirmed to the BBC that it will block any promotion of the debunked practice on their platform.
“We are writing to urge you to introduce a truly effective ban on conversion therapy for all lesbian, gay, bi, trans and gender diverse people in the UK,” reads the letter from Ban Conversion Therapy addressed to Liz Truss, the Minister for Women and Equalities.
The diverse group of signees include Peter Tatchell, Tom Rasmussen, Angela Eagle, Alan Cumming, Russell T. Davies, Charlie XCX, Jade Thirlwall, Katherine Ryan, Alex Lawther, and Dustin Lane Black among others.
“Theresa May, as Prime Minister, vowed to eradicate this ‘abhorrent’ practice in 2018,” they continued. “And since then the British public has been waiting expectantly, not least the LGBTQ+ community.”
Conversion therapy is any set of methods or practices that seek to alter a person's gender identity and/or sexuality. They range from "praying the gay away" to torture. Evidence shows that these practices are not only ineffective, but result in depression, and even suicide attempts. In the United States, the practice is opposed by a wide range of groups, including American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and American Psychological Association, as well as Human Rights Campaign, Born Perfect, and The Trevor Project. It's been internationally condemned as well by the World Psychiatric Association and others. Countries like Germany, Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, and Taiwan have all banned the practice.
In 2018, May called ending conversion therapy in the UK a priority. That has yet to happen and some of the nation's policy makers have since expressed a hesitancy to make good on their promises.
The letter goes on to call for a complete ban on any type of “counselling or persuading someone to change their sexual orientation” or “gender identity” so they may “conform with a heteronormative lifestyle.”
“Let’s end it now,” the letter concludes. “Let’s finish what was pledged two years ago and ban conversion therapy for all lesbian, gay, bi, trans and gender diverse people, of all ages - until you do, torture will continue to take place on British soil.”
For its part, Instagram has already moved forward to doing what it can to move against the harmful practice. The social media service confirmed to the BBC that it would block promotion of the practice.
"We don't allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services," Tara Hopkins, EMEA public policy director of Instagram, told the outlet. "We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach." The company cautioned that this would take time to put in place.