News from Europe

Proposed ban on conversion therapy bill may defeat religious freedom in the UK

The UK government has accelerated a draft bill to ban LGBT 'conversion practices' in spite of earlier plans to drop the proposal. In response, the Christian Institute has announced that they are willing to take legal action if the bill interferes with religious practices.

The Christian Institute recently wrote a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak emphasizing the aftermath of the ban that’s already been in place in Australia: “Religious believers could undoubtedly experience the worst effects of this sort of law. As we have seen in Victoria, it won’t take long for state bodies to feel they have the right to dictate to churches what they can and cannot teach and precisely how to pray. Those who refuse to ditch the teaching of the Bible could soon find themselves at the mercy of the criminal justice system.”

The Prime Minister intends to include the draft bill in the King’s Speech following constant pestering from Tory MPs. 

Orthodox Christian pastors are particularly at risk from this legislation. They would have a hard time counselling anyone who wants to become ex-gay. Once the law is passed, LGBT campaigners will be vigilant for any signs of conversion therapy in religious settings. This means that pastors should expect a high volume of accusations against them.

The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs, Simon Calvert expressed his concerns: “By moving ahead with this Bill at all, the Government is wading into very dangerous territory. Gay and trans people are already protected, quite rightly, from verbal and physical abuse by existing law. Since those things are outlawed, what is it that this Bill will seek to criminalise? The leading activists on this issue – those the government is trying to placate – are quite clear that they want it to target conversations and ideas they don’t like. They want a kind of LGBT blasphemy law. This is profoundly  not liberal. Jayne Ozanne says she wants ‘gentle non-coercive prayer’ to be criminalised as part of this Bill. But it is obvious to most people that gentle non-coercive prayer is not conversion therapy.”

Human rights lawyer Jason Coppel has previously advised the Christian Institute on the matter. He deduced that it “would be likely to violate” Christian freedom of expression. 



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