UK government to include transgender people in conversion therapy ban bill
Michelle Donelan, a Conservative MP for Chippenham, and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed that the Tory-led government will publish a draft conversion therapy ban that will “protect everyone,” following nearly a year of outrage over the exclusion of transgender people.
In a statement released on 17 January 2023, Donelan wrote:
“We recognise the strength of feeling on the issue of harmful conversion practices and remain committed to protecting people from these practices and making sure they can live their lives free from the threat of harm or abuse … It is right that this issue is tackled through a dedicated and tailored legislative approach, which is why we are announcing today that the government will publish a draft bill which will set out a proposed approach to ban conversion practices, this will apply to England and Wales. The bill will protect everyone, including those targeted on the basis of their sexuality, or being transgender.”
Donelan announcing the draft, which will arrive “shortly,” appears to confirm reports that Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch will not oversee the ban. Badenoch has faced much criticism from the LGBT+ community over her trans-hostile statements.
It comes after then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson dropped plans for a legislative ban in March 2022, only to U-turn by moving ahead with a ban that would protect LGB people only.
The Conservative government first promised a conversion therapy ban in 2018 under Theresa May’s leadership.
The UK government’s own National LGBT Survey shows that 13 percent of trans people, and seven percent of all LGBT+ people have undergone or been offered so-called conversion therapy.
‘We’d love to be married in church’: C of E debates same-sex church weddings
For 23 years, Jay Greene and the Rev Marion Clutterbuck have devoted themselves to each other and to the Church of England.
Clutterbuck, 66, was one of the first female priests to be ordained in the 1990s. Greene, 69, has served on the church’s parliament, the General Synod, and she is a church commissioner.
Their faith “matters deeply to both of us”, said Greene. But despite the couple’s long and dedicated service to the C of E, it has denied them their dearest wish: to be married in church.
“We’d love to be married in church and to make our promises before God,” said Greene. “Marion has given her life to the C of E, and I have worked hard for the church. But it won’t allow us – and I feel really angry about it.”
Among Anglican churches in the west, the C of E is an outlier. Same-sex marriages are conducted or blessed by the church in Scotland, Wales, the US, Canada and New Zealand.
Church of England bishops refuse to back gay marriage
The Church of England has rejected demands to allow clergy to conduct same-sex marriages but is proposing that couples who married in a civil ceremony may have their union blessed in church.
The C of E released “historic plans” on 18 January 2023 outlining a proposed way forward after decades of bitter and anguished division over sexuality. The proposal, endorsed by bishops this week, will be put to the C of E’s governing body, the General Synod, next month.
But the church will not change its existing doctrine, that marriage can be only between a man and a woman. Blessings for civil marriages will be voluntary for clergy, allowing those theologically opposed to opt out.
The C of E said it would “offer the fullest possible pastoral provision without changing the church’s doctrine of holy matrimony”. Same-sex couples would still be barred from getting married in a C of E church, but could have a service in which there would be prayers of dedication, thanksgiving or for God’s blessing on the couple in church following a civil marriage or partnership.
The bishops’ recommendations will frustrate campaigners for equal marriage, who say the C of E’s positions causes immense harm to LGBT+ people and is out of step with public opinion.
Bishops will issue an apology later this week to LGBT+ people for the “rejection, exclusion and hostility” they have faced in churches and the impact this has had on their lives.
The proposals came out of several meetings by bishops in recent months, which were the culmination of six years of consultations and discussions on same-sex marriage within the church.
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said: “This response reflects the diversity of views in the C of E on questions of sexuality, relationships and marriage – I rejoice in that diversity and I welcome this way of reflecting it in the life of our church.
“I am under no illusions that what we are proposing today will appear to go too far for some and not nearly far enough for others, but it is my hope that what we have agreed will be received in a spirit of generosity, seeking the common good.”
Jayne Ozanne, a longtime advocate for LGBT+ equality in the church, said the “small concession” meant “we are still second-class and discriminated against”.
3 thoughts on “Everyone to be protected from conversion therapy … Church of England bishops refuse to back gay marriage”
Regarding marriage in Church of England between same sex couples, my partner (of 51 years) and I are extremely happy in the church that we attend (CofE) and are accepted. I know that to be married there would be a benison, we wouldn’t wish to make it difficult for those who have a traditional approach.
Justin Welby is, I think, taking the right approach by suggesting first that blessings could be carried out.
A little-by-little method is possibly the one to cause least upset.
I’m sure that in the far distant past, churches held same sex marriages… or am I wrong?
If I’m right, it would make this ‘marriage has always been and can only be between a man and a woman’ a relatively modern idea.
Good and bad news I guess. Battle on.