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Cooper report calls for conversion therapy to be criminalised and renamed

01 October 2021


Protesters at the Reclaim Pride march in London, in July

Protesters at the Reclaim Pride march in London, in July

CONVERSION therapy should be criminalised and renamed “conversion practices”, a report published on Friday suggests.

The Cooper report, named after the late human-rights barrister Jonathan Cooper, was published after the launch, at the end of June, of the Ban Conversion Therapy Legal Forum. The Forum comprises a cross-party group of parliamentarians, academics, barristers, legal professionals, campaigners, and survivors.

Baroness Kennedy QC, who chairs the Forum, said on Friday: “We see criminalisation as essential when dealing with human-rights abuses, as this draws a clear line as to what acts will and will not be tolerated in a civilised society. This should sit alongside new civil-law measures, such as protection orders, which will help provide immediate support to those most at risk — such as LGBT+ children and vulnerable adults. This will ensure that perpetrators are left in no doubt that if they continue their harmful practices, they will face the full force of the law.”

The report states: “To ensure legal clarity, it is recommended that the term conversion ‘practices’ rather than ‘therapy’ is used. This avoids confusion as to whether the word ‘therapy’ refers solely to procedures of a professional or medical nature, particularly given that the majority of instances of conversion practices occur predominantly in religious and cultural contexts. Further, the term ‘therapy’ is highly misleading given the harm such interventions are known to cause.”

The convener of the Forum was Jayne Ozanne, a lay member of the General Synod and LGBT campaigner. The Ozanne Foundation, which she founded, commissioned the report.

Ms Ozanne said on Friday: “Whilst there have been many who have sought to muddy the water and question whether it is possible to define ‘conversion therapy’, the Forum is clear that it should relate to ‘any practice that attempts to suppress, ‘cure’ or change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity’.”

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