Catholic Groups Join Boycott of U.K. Government’s LGBTQ Conference

Three Catholic LGBTQ organizations have joined more than 100 groups in the United Kingdom who withdrew their support from a government-run LGBTQ conference that has subsequently been cancelled

Quest, LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council, and the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics all joined a boycott statement from the network LGBT+ Consortium. That statement endorses a decision by Stonewall, the U.K.’s leading LGBTQ group, to boycott the government’s Safe To Be Me conference that was planned for June. The statement explains:

“The UK Government’s plans to scrap legislation outlawing conversion practices were abhorrent. What made the situation worse was a quick U-turn that actively excluded our trans siblings, and we refuse to stand by and let this happen. Trans rights are human rights and we stand shoulder to shoulder with every trans organisation and every trans person on this matter. The UK Government’s own data shows that Trans people are more likely to be subjected to so-called conversion therapy, with data showing even higher risk for Black Trans people. A ban that excludes Trans people is unacceptable and we as an LGBT+ sector must have our voices heard on this matter and stand as one in solidarity.”

LGBT+ Consortium also included Stonewall’s individual statement, which calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to re-add a ban on conversion therapy related to gender identity into the legislation. The Safe To Be Me conference was set to be a major event as the first global LGBTQ event hosted by that nation’s government. BBC now reports that the conference now has been cancelled.

In an addendum to the LGBT+ Consortium statement, LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council reaffirmed the rejection of conversion therapy by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales in 1979. That text, which uses dated language, reads, in part:

“In the case of true homosexuals or ‘ inverts’, professional therapy may be helpful to assist them in accepting their condition positively, but therapy should never be suggested in a way that raises false expectations of a reverse or modification of the homosexual condition.”

While disappointing that a global conference on LGBTQ equality had to be cancelled, the boycott by these Catholic groups and other advocates is the correct choice. Too frequently, LGBTQ groups make concerns of the trans and non-binary community secondary to those of lesbian and gay people. The refusal by Stonewall and its partners to accept a conversion therapy ban which only covered sexual orientation is an important act of solidarity. Hopefully, this experience will prompt Boris Johnson and his government to reconsider a conversion therapy ban that includes gender identity, too.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, April 8, 2022

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