Due to the Prime Minister’s broken promise on protecting trans people from the harms of Conversion Therapy, we regret that we are withdrawing Stonewall’s support for the UK Government’s Safe To Be Me conference. We will only be able to participate if the Prime Minister reverts to his promise for a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy.
This is a decision we take with a heavy heart. As the UK’s first global LGBT+ conference, Safe To Be Me should be a moment for redoubling efforts globally to improve LGBTQ+ people’s rights and experiences. This is why we have worked hard with government and civil society organisations over the last few months to try to make the conference work.
However, last week’s leaked plans, which revealed Number 10 planned to scrap the conversion therapy ban, have left us with no choice but to withdraw our support. That the Prime Minister would so casually walk away from four years of promises to the LGBTQ+ community is appalling, and we cannot in good conscience back Safe To Be Me at a time when our community’s trust in the UK Government is shattered.
We recognise that in response to outrage from the LGBTQ+ community and our allies, the Prime Minister’s position has shifted. He now proposes a partial ban, one that protects lesbian, gay and bi cis people, but leaves trans people, including trans children, at continued risk of abuse. This is out of step with every other nation that has recently introduced a ban on conversion therapy, and ignores all credible international research that is available, including the position of the UN Independent Expert.
It is apparent that trans people have once again been sacrificed for political gain. Commissioning a separate body of work to unpick something that has already been resolved many times the world over, can only be read as an attempt to kick the issue of protecting trans people into the long grass. This is callous and unacceptable.
Conversion therapy is happening to LGBTQ+ people in the UK right now, and every day without a ban is a day where LGBTQ+ people remain at risk of lifelong harm. Trans people are amongst the highest risk groups in our community - the latest research from Galop shows that 11% of trans people have been subjected to conversion practices by their own families.
Trans people are no less worth of respect, care and protection than cis lesbian, gay and bi people. If the UK Government cannot stand behind and respect all LGBTQ+ people’s fundamental human rights, it should not be convening an LGBTQ+ rights conference on the global stage.
Stonewall remains a civil society co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition, and we continue to engage with ERC processes and events. This includes the upcoming ERC conference, which is separate from the UK government’s ‘Safe to be Me’ event, and which we will continue to be a part of. Our commitment to this mechanism, and to progressing global LGBTQI+ rights, remains unchanged.