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NHS Wales signs up to ban conversion therapy with aim to create ‘friendliest LGBTQ+ nation in Europe’

25 Apr 2022 4 minute read
Dr Frank Atherton. Photo by Life Sciences Hub Wales Via YouTube. Right, a gay pride flag.

NHS Wales has signed up to a ban on conversion therapy as part of a bid to make Wales the “friendliest LGBTQ+ nation in Europe”.

Dr Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales and Judith Paget, Chief Executive of NHS Wales said that they “fully support” making the “abhorrent practice” illegal.

The move comes after Boris Johnson scrapped UK Government plans to ban trans conversion therapy. The Prime Minister pointed to the need for parents to be fully involved in their children’s decisions about whether to undergo “irreversible treatments”.

But the Welsh Government said today that it would push forward with a ban, with the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership Hannah Blythyn outlining the next steps for doing so.

“As a government, we’ve committed to ensuring that we become the friendliest LGBTQ+ nation in Europe, where no one is left out or left behind,” she said.

“Today I am announcing several further steps Welsh Government is taking towards making conversion therapy a thing of the past.

“In addition to seeking legal advice to determine all the levers we have in Wales to end the practice of conversion therapy unilaterally; we will educate and raise awareness of the horrors and ineffectiveness of conversion therapy practices by establishing a dedicated campaign in Wales.

“Alongside this, work will be undertaken to better understand the impact of conversion ‘therapy’ on survivors to enable support services to be improved and we will establish a working group of experts, to include representatives from faith communities; the health and social care sector; and children and young people’s representatives, alongside LGBTQ+ people to help with this work and advise on key elements as a ban is developed.

“Through the measures I have announced and by engaging with partners across crucial sectors, I am confident that together we can and must rise to the challenge to make Wales the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe, where every corner of our country is a safe place for LGBTQ+ people to live openly and authentically as themselves.”


The Minister also announced that the Welsh Government and NHS Wales have signed up to a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) with the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy.

Organisations who sign the Memorandum and work in the provision of mental or psychological health delivery or commissioning, such as the NHS, will commit to ensure they do not commission or provide conversion therapy in Wales.

Dr Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales and Judith Paget, Chief Executive of NHS Wales said they “stood united” with the Welsh Government on the issue.

“The Welsh Government and NHS Wales fully support the banning of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, witnessed through our signing of the MoU with the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy,” they stood.

“We stand united in our desire to make this abhorrent practice illegal and believe this will offer an important opportunity to support those at risk of conversion therapy as well as victims and survivors.”

Boris Johnson said earlier this month that he doubted whether a child was able to consent to treatment, such as changing gender.

“I don’t think that it’s reasonable for kids to be deemed so-called Gillick-competent to take decisions about their gender or irreversible treatments that they may have. I think there should be parental involvement at the very least,” he said.

He also argued “biological males” should not be competing in women’s sports and that hospitals, prisons and changing rooms should have spaces “dedicated to women”.

“That’s as far as my thinking has developed on this issue. If that puts me in conflict with some others, then we have got to work it all out,” he said.

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