The Queen’s Speech, read by Prince Charles on 10th May, included a ban on “conversion therapy” – something Stonewall and others have been demanding for quite some time. This is good news, surely, but rather than calm the ongoing row around conversion therapy it seems to have inflamed tensions.
Conversion therapy is of course an abhorrent practice, and evidence shows that gay and lesbian conversion therapy - while thankfully incredibly rare in the UK - can be seriously damaging.
It’s been a very long time since physical aversion therapies – such as electric shock treatment, beatings or drug treatment – have been considered acceptable in the UK. In fact, they’re already illegal for any reason.
A report by Sex-Matters report confirms that homosexual conversion therapy (an attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation) is rare. But it does exist. Legislation to ban it can only be a good thing – it sends out a signal that these harmful practices will not be tolerated.
What are these inflamed tension about, then? A tried-and-tested activist tactic is to piggyback changes for which there is little or no popular support with other popular reforms. This tactic has been employed here by adding a ban on what is being called ‘transgender conversion therapy’ to the proposal to ban gay and lesbian conversion therapy, even though they are totally different things.
Sexual orientation – the type of sexed body to which a person feels sexual attraction – is not at all the same as a belief in an innate gender identity. And supporting a person who is confused about who they should be (or are) sexually attracted to, is very different to supporting a person to believe that they have a body that somehow needs ‘fixing’, or that they should be treated by everyone else as if they are a different sex to that which they were born.
Activists are conflating the two by demanding that sexual orientation is redefined as ‘same or opposite gender attraction’ rather than ‘same or opposite sex attraction’.
If homosexuals are redefined as ‘same gender attracted’, and if gender can be different from natal sex, then a man who is attracted to other men but claims to identify as a woman can be considered heterosexual. For those individuals or cultures who have a problem with homosexuality, and for religious communities that consider homosexuality to be sinful, redefining a gay man as a straight woman is a neat way to redefine that problem or sin out of existence.
This is not just a straw man argument. Kai Shappley’s mother makes it very clear indeed that she was willing to try anything to prevent her son from growing up to be a gay man, punishing him whenever he acted in a gender non-conforming way. Unable to change her child’s behaviour, she has enthusiastically embraced the idea that her gender non-conforming son is, in fact, her daughter.
Susie Green was clear in her TED talk that her husband struggled with their son Jack’s gender non-conforming behaviour. But when Jack became Jackie their potentially gay son became a gender conforming daughter.
What this looks very much like is conversion therapy. The families of these boys, who are unwilling or unable, by their own admission, to accept that their sons might be gay, appear to be “transing the gay away”. You can hear Tavistock whistle-blower Dr David Bell explaining this on the BBC Podcast Nolan Investigates: Stonewall episode 5. He couldn’t be clearer.
Could it be, though, that we’re witnessing a case of overreach by the gender ideology activists backfiring in the most spectacular way?
The Denton’s playbook that has served them so well in the past encourages activists to push through the legislative change they want by attaching it to more popular changes to avoid scrutiny. In this case, whilst the general public and politicians of all stripes agree that conversion therapy for gay men and lesbian women is unacceptable, it was the activists who were pushing for legislation and made sure to include “trans conversion therapy” as if it was just the same thing.
The recognition that talking therapies for teenagers presenting as transgender might be beneficial made the government, quite correctly, pause and detach “trans conversion therapy” from the bill. Cue predictable outrage from the gender ideology lobby groups. And sensing a photo-opportunity, Labour MPs were quick to jump on the bandwagon.
But there is more at stake here for the gender ideology movement. Because if some families choose gender reassignment drugs and surgery to make their gay sons into straight daughters (or their lesbian daughters into straight sons), and if this is indeed conversion therapy, then the transition of gay or lesbian young people might in the future be prevented by the proposed conversion therapy bill.