BORIS Johnson will “never be forgiven” for backtracking on promises to ban conversion therapy for transgender people, the SNP have said.

It emerged this week that the UK Government would not be pursuing a ban, but this U-turn was swiftly followed by another stating that the legislation would cover “only gay conversion therapy, not trans”.

SNP equalities spokesperson Kirsten Oswald likened the move to Section 28, a series of laws brought in in the UK in 1988 by Tory PM Margaret Thatcher which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities.

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The UK Government’s plans to renege on their commitments were leaked after a briefing paper seen by ITV News was reported to have said “the PM has agreed we should not move forward with legislation” to outlaw the practice.

But within hours of the announcement, a senior government source was quoted as saying legislation would be included in the Queen’s Speech in May.

The PM was said to have “changed his mind” after seeing the reaction to the earlier announcement, and that the legislation would cover only gay and not trans.

The National:

Johnson quickly U-turned on his plan to scrap the conversion therapy ban in its entirety

Plans to ban the practice and protect LGBT communities from “abhorrent practices” which can cause mental and physical harm were included in the previous Queen’s Speech in May 2021.

Meanwhile, in Holyrood the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee backed a ban on conversion therapy in Scotland and work has begun to bring in legislation.

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said that his government will look at ways to bring in legislation through the Assembly, as the Bill was due to cover both England and Wales.

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And, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Johnson of using conversion therapy as a distraction from the cost of living crisis.

Oswald said that the practice has “no place in our society” and that it is crucial to bring in a ban before anyone else has to suffer.

She said: “The Tories have spent four years promising to ban conversion therapy - all while listening to the very brave testimonies of those who have endured this awful practice, so for them to even speculate on simply trashing their plans to act is disgraceful.

The National:

Oswald said the PM will never be forgiven for excluding trans people from the ban

“Especially disappointing is the plan to entirely exclude trans conversion therapy from any kind of future ban, especially at a time of heightened fear for transgender people in the UK amidst rising hate crime statistics.

“If Boris Johnson U-turns on this long standing commitment, it will go down in history as his own Section 28 moment for which he will never be forgiven.

“And just as the Tories of today have had to apologise for their party’s deeply damaging attacks on LGBT+ rights in the past, future generations will carry the shame of Boris Johnson’s failure to do the right thing on conversion therapy.”

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Starmer has suggested the Government’s double U-turn on the banning of conversion therapy was meant as a distraction from the cost-of-living crisis.

Speaking on a visit to Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, on Friday, Starmer said that “all conversion therapy in all its forms is wrong”.

He said: “The Government should just keep to its promises on this.

The National:

Starmer said that the PM was using the issue as a distraction from the cost of living crisis

“But look, let’s be honest and clear about what’s happening today – the Government is trying to get us all to talk about conversion therapy because they don’t want us focusing on the cost-of-living crisis, on the increase in energy bills, where they’ve got such a pathetic response.

“So it’s wrong, the Government should keep to its promises.

“But, you know, this is classic Conservative, trying to sort of distract people over here, when really the issue is the cost of living and energy prices.”