The UK has cancelled a conference promoting LGBT+ rights after sponsors pulled out over the government’s stance on conversion therapy.
A damaging Downing Street leak last week revealed that the government had decided not to move forwards with plans to end conversion therapy, despite committing to do so in 2018.
Sponsors for the Safe to be Me conference pulled out in droves after the Prime Minister u-turned on the decision, but briefed media that trans people would be excluded from plans to ban the harmful practice.
“The complexity of issues requires separate work to further consider transgender conversion therapy,” a government spokesperson told Reuters.
“It is disappointing to see partners withdraw from an international conference that focused on the fundamental human rights issues facing LGBT people around the world, and as a result it will not be possible to proceed with the Safe To Be Me Conference,” a spokesperson said.
At least 100 organisations have ditched plans to attend or sponsor the conference and Iain Anderson yesterday quit as Boris Johnson’s LGBT+ business champion amid the row.
In a letter to Johnson, Anderson said “the recent leaking of a plan to drop the government’s flagship legislation protecting LGBT+ people from conversion therapy was devastating. Conversion therapy is abhorrent.
“Only hours later to see this plan retracted, but briefing take place that trans people would be excluded from the legislation and therefore not have the same immediate protections from this practice was deeply damaging to my work,” he added.
The blunder has also drawn criticism from amongst the ranks of the ruling conservative party.
“If banning conversion therapy will stop the likes of me being subjected to mental cruelty in repressing my true self, why not so for someone who is trans?” commented William Wragg, the MP for Hazel Grove. “Let’s have some empathy.”