The Government is to launch a consultation on how best to protect LGBT people when it bans the “coercive and abhorrent practice” of conversion therapy.
The Queen’s Speech, setting out the Government’s legislative agenda, said measures will be brought forward to ban conversion therapy, which can cause mental and physical harm.
In a briefing note from Number 10, accompanying the speech, the Government said it will ensure the action it takes is “proportionate and effective, and does not have unintended consequences”.
It said it will ensure that medical professionals, religious leaders, teachers and parents will be able to continue to have open and honest conversations.
It will launch a consultation before details of the ban are finalised in order to hear from a wide range of people.
The Government Equalities Office (GEO) said the consultation will seek views to ensure that the ban can address the practice “while protecting the medical profession, defending freedom of speech, and upholding religious freedom”.
As soon as parliamentary time allows, and following the consultation, the ban will be introduced in legislation.
The charity Stonewall welcomed the commitment but said news of a consultation “is concerning and will be hard for our communities to hear”.
Chief executive Nancy Kelley said: “We don’t need a consultation to know that all practices that seek to convert, suppress, cure or change us are dangerous, abusive and must be banned.
“Lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex and ace communities have been waiting almost three years for the UK Government to follow through on their promise to ban all conversion practices, and any delay leaves us at further risk of abuse.”
There is no specific timeframe for the consultation but the Government wants it to be “short and prompt”, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
Asked about a warning from former LGBTQ adviser to the Government Jayne Ozanne, who warned it “risks creating a highly dangerous loophole if it chooses to focus purely on ‘coercive’ practices”, the Downing Street spokesman said: “I disagree.
“We want to work with key stakeholders to inform proposals so we can put an end to this practice.”
The Government has also commissioned research into the scope of practices and experiences of those subjected to conversion therapy.
New funding will go towards a victim support package to ensure that victims can access the support they need.
The GEO said it will be the first time the UK Government has offered such support.
Organisations will be invited to bid to develop such a package, with the Government anticipating that support will be in place by the summer.
Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss said: “As a global leader on LGBT rights, this Government has always been committed to stamping out the practice of conversion therapy.
“We want to make sure that people in this country are protected, and these proposals mean nobody will be subjected to coercive and abhorrent conversion therapy.
“Alongside this legislation, we will make new funding available to ensure that victims have better access to the support they need.”
Ministers have come under fire in recent months over the time taken to implement a ban.
In March, Boris Johnson said ending conversion therapy is “technically complex” but insisted that ministers will “stamp it out” after three LGBT advisers resigned in protest.
Ms Ozanne, the first of the advisers to quit, cited delays to banning the pseudoscientific process as among her many complaints of ministers.
Polling released on Tuesday by YouGov shows that almost two-thirds (64%) of British adults believe conversion therapy should be banned.
Support for banning the practice is shared across the political spectrum and all age groups, according to the survey of 1,803 adults in April.
Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the organisation “fully supports” calls to ban conversion therapy.
He added: “We will be taking part in the consultation to highlight why conversion therapy is both unacceptable and harmful and to ensure clinicians can still help people fully explore their gender identity where appropriate.”
The Church of England’s General Synod passed a resolution in 2017 calling on the Government to end conversion therapy.
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, welcomed the Government’s commitment, adding: “We recognise the difficulties in defining conversion therapies and look forward to working closely with the Government to develop a viable definition and subsequent legislation.
“We want to prevent abuses of power and ensure that issues of consent are made absolutely central to any future legislation.”