Wales seek legal advice on conversion therapy ban after ‘partial’ U-turn

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Wales is seeking legal advice on ‘unilateral action’ it can take to ban conversion therapy, after the UK reportedly pledged to eradicate the practice for gay people, but not those who are trans.

In a statement on behalf of the Welsh Government, Deputy Minister Hannah Blythyn said she had written to the UK Government to express her “strongest condemnation” of its decision “to abandon the search for protections for part of our community”.

She said Wales would seek “urgent legal advice” on what “unilateral action” it might take to ban the practice, and would seek “the devolution of any additional powers necessary to achieve this”.

It comes after Boris Johnson successfully staged two U-turns in the space of hours on the controversial issue of LGBT conversion therapy.

It was initially announced that ministers were backing down from banning the practice, sparking a furious backlash.

A government spokesman confirmed on Thursday that they were instead looking for ways to prevent it through existing legislation and “other non-legislative measures”.

However, hours after the announcement, a senior government source reportedly said legislation would be included in the Queen’s Speech in May.

The Prime Minister is said to have “changed his mind” after seeing the reaction to the decision.

The ban now to be brought forward by the government will cover ‘only gay conversion therapy, not trans’, ITV’s Paul Brand reported.

The Welsh Government described this as a “partial U-turn”, with the omission of “unacceptable” trans people.

“On Transgender Visibility Day, the Prime Minister has chosen to drop the pursuit of protections for part of our community,” Ms Blythyn wrote.

“This is unacceptable and the partial U-turn is not a victory. The LGBTQ+ community is one, and none of us are equal while our rights are under discussion or barter.

She added: ‘I have written to the UK Government to express my strongest condemnation of this decision and have urged that its intentions be clarified as a matter of urgency.

“Today I can announce that the Welsh Government will seek urgent legal advice on what unilateral action we are able to take to ban conversion ‘therapy’. We will do all we can within our delegated powers. to protect our LGBTQ+ community.

“We can no longer believe that the British government will do the same. We will also seek to obtain the devolution of any additional powers necessary to carry out this. »

Welsh Prime Minister Mark Drakeford also tweeted: “The Welsh Government has requested urgent legal advice on what steps we are able to take to ban conversion therapy here in Wales.

“We will continue to do everything we can to protect our LGBTQ+ community and will seek further delegation of authority as needed.”

Mr Johnson reportedly faced a backlash over the initial decision to drop plans to ban conversion therapy from 60 of his own MPs, including ministers.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested the government’s double U-turn was intended to distract from the cost of living crisis.

Speaking during a visit to Dewsbury, West Yorkshire on Friday, he said ‘all conversion therapy in any form is wrong’.

“But listen, let’s be honest and clear about what’s happening today – the government is trying to get us all talking about conversion therapy because they don’t want us to focus on the cost of living crisis, on rising energy bills, where they have such a pathetic response.

“So it’s wrong, the government should keep its promises.

“But, you know, it’s classic conservative, sort of trying to distract people here, when the real issue is the cost of living and energy prices.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “The government has a proud record on LGBT rights, and the Prime Minister is committed to bringing forward legislation banning conversion therapy.

“The content, scope and timing of the proposed bill will be confirmed in due course.”

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