by Debbie Hayton
Tuesday, 21
September 2021
Debate
07:00

How the Lib Dems silenced debate on conversion therapy

Dissenting arguments went missing at this weekend's conference
by Debbie Hayton
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey. Credit: Getty

Conversion therapy is an abhorrent practice, and talk of it conjures up images of electric shock treatments inflicted on gay men fifty years ago. This weekend’s Liberal Democrat Conference resolved to ban it. So important was this issue to the party that it was the first policy motion to be debated.

But the new policy implemented by the Liberal Democrats goes beyond the October 2017 Memorandum of Understanding that was supported by 21 organisations including the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Crucially, that document supported exploratory therapy when working with a client who, “wishes to explore, experiences conflict with or is in distress regarding, their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Those reassurances are absent from the Lib Dem resolution — to the alarm of some party members at conference. Martin Eggleston, a first-time delegate from Abingdon told UnHerd that he was concerned that if the Lib Dem policy ever became law it would leave doctors, counsellors, and other professionals vulnerable to accusations that could destroy their careers and at risk of prosecution, for just doing their jobs. He added:

“There isn’t much wrong with what is in the motion; we all want to see an end to Conversion Therapy. But what’s missing is potentially disastrous.”

Eggleston would have liked to have expressed those concerns to the conference, but “technical difficulties” got in the way. Deplorably — in a debate that was more reminiscent of people’s democracy than a liberal democracy — not a single opposing speaker was heard. The motion was proposed, seconded and supported.

An attempt in writing to refer the motion back to the Federal Policy Committee for further consideration fell by 216 votes to 155, and it was left to Em Dean from Harrow to sum up the “debate”. Even Dean sounded surprised: “I am not sure why I am summating because I don’t think there are any arguments against.”

There were arguments against but those who had prepared them were unable to deliver them. They were marooned in a Zoom waiting room listening to “heartfelt apologies” from Nick da Costa in the Chair. But rather than adjourn the motion until the “technical difficulties” had been fixed, and all views could be heard, da Costa moved straight to the vote. The motion was passed by 368 to 44, the press-release was fired out, and the rest is now history.

Democracy? Not in any liberal sense of the word.

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Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
8 months ago

Typical of professional politicians. They always feel they have to be seen to be “doing things”. So they do too much, and it’s always in the service of whatever is flavour of the month. Currently, that’s the gay lobby.
Personally, I don’t believe any kind of “therapy” is required, but that’s because I don’t see gay orientation as an identity. To me, it’s just a taste, the way some men prefer older women or some women like rugged looking men. It doesn’t define anything and need have no further effect on a person’s life. But hey, that’s just me. If somebody feels they need therapy, who is anyone else to say they can’t have it? Oh, wait, I forgot — the left is in control of everything in our society and they don’t actually believe in all that “personal freedom” BS they peddle to the rest of us.

Andrea Re
Andrea Re
8 months ago

Oh dear.
In any case, I doubt that hearing dissenting voices would have made any difference at all.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrea Re

Quite so. Since by presuming to “ban” a species of putative “talking cure” they are effectively criminalising conversation, one cannot imagine them welcoming dissent. Utterance is gradually being reduced to the enunciation of the latest orthodoxy followed by varieties of grovelling agreement.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

They must have undergone some kind of conversion therapy to become liberal democrats

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
8 months ago

But electric shock treatment used to be state of the art. And who would have been supporting state of the art practice, ie “the science”?

ralph bell
ralph bell
8 months ago

Why was gender reassignment for teens not high on the agenda?

Andrea Re
Andrea Re
8 months ago
Reply to  ralph bell

Because they don’t want to ruffle any feather.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
8 months ago

Why is it ok to (want to) change your gender, but not your race or sexual preferences?

Oliver Elphick
Oliver Elphick
8 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Because the ultimate agenda is destruction of the family, so that the state (meaning the privileged in charge of the state) can control thinking. These useful idiots have no understanding of that.
The particular target is Christian teaching about sex and family, which have been steadily pulled down since the 1960s.

Last edited 8 months ago by Oliver Elphick
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
8 months ago

Slugger Moran and her colleagues are not by any stretch of the imagination liberals.

Charles Lewis
Charles Lewis
8 months ago

But the new policy implemented by the Liberal Democrats goes beyond the October 2017 Memorandum of Understanding that was supported by 21 organisations including the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Crucially, that document supported exploratory therapy when working with a client who, “wishes to explore, experiences conflict with or is in distress regarding, their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Yes, but there is, I understand, a more recent MoU where our shameful medical profession agrees that the trans-troubled child must not be offered psychological help, whcih is misleadigly termed ‘converson’ therapy. Actually, leaving the child untreated is the conversion therapy, because the child would probably have desisted and grown up gay..

Steve White
Steve White
8 months ago

Interesting. The NEU conference experienced technical difficulties when the speaker against adopting a definition of transphobia was unable to speak.

The NEU also passed a divisive motion on the trans issue.