Photo: Josh Asker
Photo: Josh Asker

Michael Johnson, Socialist Party LGBTQ+ group convenor

Since 2018, Tory ministers have promised to ban the barbaric practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people on 35 separate occasions. In that time, eight countries have passed bans.

However, on 31 March, news leaked that the Boris Johnson government was dropping the proposed ban. This news met with an unsurprising backlash.

Hours later, Johnson made a partial U-turn, pledging to outlaw conversion therapy for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, but still refusing to include trans conversion therapy in the ban. This half U-turn met its own backlash.

In response, over 100 LGBTQ+ charities and support services pulled out of the Tories’ ‘Safe to be me’ international LGBT rights conference later in the year, leading to the conference being cancelled.

Despite massive steps forward LGBTQ+ people have made, conversion therapy has still affected the lives of 7% of LGBTQ+ people in the UK. And this figure reached as high as 28% for black trans people.

The Tories are untrustworthy allies for LGBTQ+ people. The They twist from congratulating their LGBTQ+ rights record, to attacking us as part of a ‘culture war.’

This is alongside other broken Tory promises, such as reforms to the Gender Recognition Act. Groups like Stonewall have diverted the fight for LGBTQ+ rights towards patient, polite appeals for reforms. But handing out awards and attending garden parties to help the Tories launder their reputation as the ‘nasty party’ has failed to secure real, lasting change for LGBTQ+ people.

We cannot rely on the Tories to hand us our rights. Labour is no better. Keir Starmer refused to back trans rights on national radio last year.

The history of LGBTQ+ rights is a history of struggle. A real ban on conversion therapy will require further struggle.

This struggle cannot happen on its own. Conversion therapy is one of many issues impacting LGBTQ+ people. Along with access to healthcare, housing and jobs, all these problems require more than just new laws or reforms, but a fightback with the united forces of the working class to make a real change to society.

Capitalism fosters the prejudice that leads to practices like conversion therapy. The struggle against all prejudice is part of the struggle for socialism.

Thousands protest in London

Orlagh Scorey-Auckland, Southampton Pride trans officer

3,000 people massed outside Downing Street on 10 April to protest the government’s failure to ban trans conversion therapy. One trans girl gave a very moving description of her conversion therapy treatment.

Southampton Socialist Party member Levi Wellman got a big cheer when she announced that three trans women are standing in the Southampton local elections for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

There was anger among everyone and loud anti-Boris Johnson chants. The size of the demonstration is a sign that trans people are getting active. We got lots of public support.

This protest is also a sign of how trans people have politically grown and flourished. This attack has galvanised us.

This year’s Pride events are certain to see big turnouts to protest and an increasingly political agenda to fight for trans rights. The protest reinforced my self -confidence that our struggle for equality must win.