LGBTQ+ History Month – by Wren Crawford (they/them)

It is February 2024 and being an LGBTQ+ person is illegal in 64 countries; and in 12 of these countries, it is legally punishable by death. Here in the UK, LGBTQ+ equality has progressed since the Sexual Offences Act legalised homosexuality in 1967, and with the legalisation of Equal Marriage in 2014. However, prejudice and discrimination are very much prevalent in England, and increasing rapidly as we see a social shift in favour of an anti-LGBTQ+ persuasion.

Reflecting upon the implementation of the Conservative government’s 1988 now-abolished Section 28, banning the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools and local authorities, we are seeing echoes of this filtering back into society, with the target now upon the Transgender community.

Stonewall released that in 2023, there was an 11% rise in reported transphobic hate crimes (and an 186% increase since 2018), which “comes against a backdrop of the UK Government drawing back its support for trans people and the growth of divisive and demonising rhetoric about trans people in society”1. There has been a resurgence of mid-20th Century fanaticism in which uninformed ideals are being fixated and propagated upon, to create a social divide between the minority and the majority, in which marginalised communities are branded the problem.


From a culture which classified homosexuality as a mental disorder in the 1952-2013 editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it is easy to trace the routes of how prejudice can be perpetuated, and the power which authority and lawful figures possess. However, legality does not necessarily equate to morality, and this is reflected in the beliefs and practices undertaken within Conversion Therapy – a pseudo-scientific process of interventions with the intention of changing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, through various methods including, the ingestion of chemicals; emotional and/or physical abuse; prayer and/or exorcism; electric shock treatment, and “corrective” rape, to name a few.

One of the most infamous cases of Conversion Therapy in the UK included Alan Turing – who was responsible for deciphering the Enigma Code during World War Two, saving an estimated 14 million people’s lives. In 1952, Alan Turing was subjected to “chemical castration” as his sexuality was deemed a “sexual deviance”. He was one of approximately 100,000 homosexual people around this time, to either be imprisoned or receive Conversion Therapy. Two years later, in 1954, Alan Turing died by suspected suicide.


In 2021, the UK Government proposed a bill to abolish Conversion Therapy for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people, but excluded Transgender people from the bill. The UK Government have yet to fulfil its promise, and some Conversion Practices are still legal within the UK in 2024; however, Human Rights Activists are campaigning for Parliament to bring forward the bill and implement the legalisation with the inclusion of Transgender people.

However, the Government’s proposed bill consultation “suggests that any proposed ban will include exemptions allowing for Conversion Therapy to legally occur when recipients are over 18 and can “consent”. This means that instances [where people are] coerced to agree to Conversion Therapy, would remain legal, and perpetrators would be protected by law”2. Refuge describes coercive control as “an act, or a pattern of acts, of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation that abusers use to harm, punish or frighten survivors”3 and can result in a maximum penalty of five years in prison under the Serious Crimes Act (2015), so the proposed laws regarding the protection of Conversion Therapy, contrasted with the rights of people influenced by coercive control, prove convoluted, and the future of Conversion Therapy and the safety of LGBTQ+ people remains uncertain.

In The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health 2020, it stated that 10% of LGBTQ+ children received Conversion Therapy, and 78% were under the age of 18. It was reported that of the children who underwent Conversion Therapy practices, 28% of them attempted suicide4.


It is important, that this LGBTQ+ History Month, we remember that a person’s sexuality or gender identity is not a disease, nor can it be “cured”; and we must remember the afflictions which have been forced upon the LGBTQ+ community not only in the past, but in the present. We must learn from what has gone before, to ensure that it does not repeat itself; nor must we allow marginalised communities to be persecuted and be treated inhumanely to fuel a prejudicial and hate-fuelled agenda, which is not only putting adults at harm, but also children.


On Friday 1st March, the UK Government are meeting for the Second Reading of the Private Member’s Bill to ban conversion therapy, and you have the power to encourage your local MP to attend by emailing them using the link below:






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