Charles Moore: Conversion therapy ban could catch pro-marriage views

Feb 8, 2023

MPs who want to ban ‘conversion therapy’ are “arrogant and undemocratic” because of the risk that it would prevent parents and ministers of religion from teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman, a leading journalist has said.

Writing in the Telegraph, Charles Moore, a former editor of the newspaper and the Spectator, noted that “all mainstream religions, in most of their major manifestations, define marriage as being between a man and a woman”.

Therefore, they logically want to point their followers towards man-woman marriage over other lifestyles, which a ban on ‘conversion therapy’ risks preventing them from doing.

Most MPs are unaware of this dire consequence for freedom of religion and conscience, Moore thinks. But some are aware – and it is these MPs he calls “arrogant and undemocratic”.

Last month the Government announced that a ‘conversion therapy’ ban Bill will be published shortly and will include attempts to change someone’s ‘gender identity’ as well as sexual orientation.

The announcement prompted a backlash from Tory MPs, leading Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, who is responsible for the Bill, to write to them insisting that a ban on conversion therapy must not criminalise parents and must respect freedom of religion.

Moore sees this intervention as an indication that the Bill may be headed for the long grass. The issues involved are so delicate, the Government says, that they require detailed pre-legislative scrutiny. This makes the likelihood of the law making it onto the statute books before the election remote, Moore suggests.

But with a Labour Government potentially on the horizon, is it just a matter of time?

MPs need to “think more carefully about where a conversion therapy ban might lead”, counsels Moore.

At C4M, we agree. Forcible attempts to alter someone’s sexual orientation are already illegal in the UK. A new, poorly drafted ban just risks making criminals out of loving parents and conscientious religious leaders. A ban would only make it harder to point people towards the unparalleled benefits of marriage between one man and one woman. MPs should think again.