Tomorrow, my bill to ban conversion therapy will be debated in the House of Lords.
It’s too easy to think of these practices as a remnant from the past. Sadly, this is far from the reality. The Government’s own research has shown that 7% of LGBT+ people had undergone or been offered conversion therapy.
This is an appalling statistic. Sexual orientation or gender identity is not a problem to be treated and ‘cured’. It’s who we are - and these practices have got to stop.
But time and again, the Conservative Government has broken their promise to deliver a conversion therapy ban. Five years on, we cannot afford to waste any more time.
We cannot leave the LGBT+ community unprotected against these harms for any longer.
That’s why I have tabled a bill which will make it an offence for any person to practise, or offer to practise, conversion therapy.
My bill seeks to be as comprehensive as possible, to make sure that all LGBT+ people are protected and no loopholes can persist. And it will focus on the intended purpose of the practice - ensuring that genuine psychological or religious support without a predetermined goal isn’t caught up in a ban.
Of course, this isn’t the first time us Liberal Democrats have been at the forefront of the fight for LGBT+ equality.
From Ed Davey moving the clause to repeal Section 28, to Lynne Featherstone’s tireless work in getting the Same Sex Marriage Act passed, we have a long, proud history of delivering change for the LGBT+ community.
It is my sincere hope that we can do the same with this bill.
There is still a long road ahead. The only way to get this bill passed is with support from the Government. So we will be pushing Conservative ministers to do the right thing and back our bill.
In the past weeks, I have been amazed to see a positive response from so many of my colleagues in the House of Lords. I have been busy meeting with parliamentarians from all parties and none to discuss how we can work together to deliver a ban.
It’s clear that there is cross-party consensus. So we will keep working together on this.
Because it isn’t about party politics. It’s about finally delivering the change the LGBT+ community deserves. And I will keep doing everything in my power to make this a reality.