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Conversion therapy ban loophole has UK LGBTQ+ rights activists worried

“The public don’t know that this is happening all around them, […] that’s why we need a broad definition of what conversion therapy is”

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LGBTQ+ people & allies gather in London 2019 (File screenshot Global News)

LONDON – As the Tory-led government in the United Kingdom prepares to finalize the government’s measures on a forthcoming proposed UK-wide ban on anti-LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, human rights and LGBTQ+ campaigners are working to ensure the legislation does not contain a loophole allowing those who received “informed consent” from their victims to evade justice the Guardian UK reported.

A report just released by the UK’s LGBTQ+ anti-abuse charity Galop found that that 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ respondents to a sexual violence survey experienced sexual assault intended to convert or punish them for their identity.

Galop asked 935 LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual assault: “At any age, have you experienced sexual violence that you believed was intended to convert you to heterosexuality or your assigned gender at birth, or to punish you for your gender or sexual identity?”, and almost 1 in 4 (24%) reported back that they had.

It is currently unclear whether ace, non-binary and intersex people will be protected under the UK Government’s proposed conversion therapy ban. The charity is calling for people to respond to the government’s consultation on the conversion therapy ban to ensure it protects every member of the community from this abuse in all its forms.

“This is the largest study of LGBTQ+ victims of sexual violence in the UK to date, and the results we’ve found relating to conversion and punishment show that this is a significant and ongoing issue.said Leni Morris, Galop’s Chief Executive Officer.

“There are assumptions and stereotypes about victims of so-called conversion therapy, but our report shows this is happening to LGBTQ+ people of all cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. It also shows clearly that there is a long history of this kind of abuse against our community – and that it is still happening right now in the UK today,” she added.

Morris told the Guardian: “Our survey shows very starkly that the reality of conversion therapy in the UK is far from what people imagine, or have seen in films like The Miseducation of Cameron Post, where American high school kids get sent to a Christian camp.”

Addressing the proposed consent loophole, Morris said: “It is fundamental that UK legislation does not carve out a form of abuse that is OK if you agree to it – consider domestic abuse, forced marriage, honour-based violence – you cannot consent to abuse.”

Sasha Misra, associate director of communications and campaigns for British LGBTQ rights organization Stonewall, said comprehensive legislation was required to outlaw “all forms of conversion therapies in every setting without loopholes … It’s been over three years since the UK government committed to banning conversion therapy, it must act now to protect our communities and outlaw this abhorrent practice once and for all.”

Beyond the “informed consent” is the fact that the current proposals to legislate for a ban on conversion therapy in England and Wales, and Gender Recognition Act reform in Scotland – effectively seek to exclude trans people from improved rights and protections.

The Guardian noted that the UK government has explicitly pledged to include trans people in their legislation, despite a recent response from the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggesting that the legislation should initially focus on attempts to change sexual orientation only.

Although in Scotland some faith groups expressed anxieties that prayer and pastoral conversations would be affected by the new law. Holyrood’s Equalities Committee rejected this, however, stating it saw no conflict between banning conversion practices and protecting religious practice.

A Holyrood committee last week published a report calling for an immediate ban on the “traumatizing” practice in Scotland, with the recommendations being welcomed as a fully comprehensive prohibition, with no exemptions, the Guardian reported.

Blair Anderson, of End Conversion Therapy Scotland, himself a survivor of the practice, said the public were often shocked at its prevalence. “The public don’t know that this is happening all around them, in family homes or in churches,” he said. “My experience was informal and at home: that’s why we need a broad definition of what conversion therapy is.

In a petition letter call for change, Stonewall wrote;” We urge both the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and First Minister of Scotland, to continue showing leadership to recognise and protect trans people, and progress rights for our communities by supporting these key pieces of legislation.”

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Britain bids farewell to Queen Elizabeth II, an iconic monarch

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, remembered the Queen as an “iconic leader” and “beacon of wisdom and principled leadership”

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The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II draped in the Royal Standard during her funeral services at Westminster Abbey (Screenshot live feed/Press Pool)

LONDON – World leaders joined Britain’s Royal family and 2,000 other dignitaries for the hourlong state funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II in tributes and prayer at Westminster Abbey Monday.

The King, Charles III, accompanied by his Queen-Consort Camilla, the Prince of Wales William with his wife Kate and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the King’s siblings Anne, Princess Royal, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the King’s younger son, Harry, Duke of Sussex, their wives and the extended royal family escorted the coffin into the services and later attended the private interment at the Royal vault at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle where the deceased monarch will rest alongside her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The King accompanied by Queen-Consort Camilla is seen here with his sister Anne, Princess Royal during state funeral services for their mother Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey Sept. 19, 2022.
(Screenshot live feed/Press Pool)

The state funeral was attended by numerous heads of state including the new U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss, U.S. President Joe Biden and the First Lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, were also present.

Leaders of most Commonwealth countries attended, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese making the nearly 24-hour journey from the other side of the globe.

In addition to political and other dignitaries including other European royals attended along with Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. Japanese news outlet Asahi Shimbun reported, citing Imperial Household Agency officials, that a Japanese emperor has only attended the funeral of a foreign head of state or royal family member on one previous occasion, when then-Emperor Akihito attended the funeral of Belgian King Baudouin in 1993.

Spain’s King Felipe VI and his wife Queen Letizia were among the European royals who attended. Former Spanish King Juan Carlos I and former Queen Sofia were be present. The former King is the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria and a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Reuters reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who remembered the Queen as an “iconic leader” and “beacon of wisdom and principled leadership,” also attended.

The Nave of Westminster Abbey, during state funeral services for Queen Elizabeth II
(Screenshot live feed/Press Pool)

Elizabeth II oversaw a significant change in the role of the monarch and Britain’s place on the world stage in the 70 years she was on the throne. Reuters noted that the 40th sovereign in a line that traces its lineage back to 1066, Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952 and became Britain’s first post-imperial monarch.

She oversaw her nation trying to carve out a new place in the world, and she was instrumental in the emergence of the Commonwealth of Nations, now a grouping comprising 56 countries.

She guided her government over the administrations of 15 Prime Ministers starting with Sir Winston Churchill and ending with her asking Liz Truss to form a government as Prime Minister only a couple of days before her death at Balmoral Castle, her summer home in the Scottish highlands.

The Queen’s legacy in regards to the LGBTQ+ community was complicated

In 1952, when she took the throne after the death of her father, King George VI, same-sex sexual relations were criminalized in Britain. The same laws were also brought to the Commonwealth countries that it colonized, NBC Out reported.

By the time she died, the landscape for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights looked dramatically different — at least in the United Kingdom — in part because she approved of many pro-LGBTQ measures, such as same-sex marriage. That support has led some to argue that she was a “quiet” supporter of LGBTQ rights, but to others she was just doing her job.

Elizabeth, among other things, pardoned Alan Turing, an acclaimed World War II codebreaker and computer scientist who died by suicide two years after his 1952 conviction for “gross indecency.” 

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967, which decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations among men in England and Wales who are at least 21.

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the marriage equality law that took effect in England and Wales in 2014. Elizabeth has also urged the U.K. to ban so-called conversion therapy.

Additional reporting by Michael Lavers, Reuters, AFP, and NBC News Out

Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral at London’s Westminster Abbey – LIVE (previously recorded):

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United Kingdom

The King’s speech to the UK, the Commonwealth & the world

“Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years”

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Screenshot/YouTube The Telegraph

LONDON – In his first address as the United Kingdom’s Head-of-State, Charles spoke to the his nation and the global community regarding the death of his beloved mother, Queen Elizabeth II and his commitment to his people as he succeeds her as King.

The Telegraph reported that the broadcast was recorded in the Blue Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace, after the King and Queen-Consort greeted crowds of mourners outside the gates.

In a final message to his mother, the King said: “To my darling Mama, as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late Papa, I want simply to say this: thank you. “Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years. “May ‘flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest’.”

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United Kingdom

Queen Elizabeth II dies

96-year-old British monarch passed away in Scotland

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Queen Elizabeth II (Public domain photo)

BALMORAL CASTLE, Scotland — Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at the age of 96.

Elizabeth assumed the British throne in 1952 after her father, King George VI, died.

Elizabeth, among other things, pardoned Alan Turing, an acclaimed World War II codebreaker and computer scientist who died by suicide two years after his 1952 conviction for “gross indecency.” 

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967, which decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations among men in England and Wales who are at least 21.

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the marriage equality law that took effect in England and Wales in 2014. Elizabeth has also urged the U.K. to ban so-called conversion therapy.

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss took office on Tuesday.

“We’re all devastated,” she said outside 10 Downing St. “Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built.”

British Ambassador to the U.S. Karen Pierce, who has hosted a number of Pride Month receptions in D.C., in a statement said Elizabeth “devoted a lifetime of dedicated service to her country and was an inspiring role model for everyone across the globe.”

“Her legacy is one of charity and compassion,” said Pierce.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018 said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relations the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries.

Court rulings in Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis in recent months struck down colonial-era sodomy laws. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last month said his country would decriminalize consensual same-sex consensual relations.

Jamaica and Uganda are among the Commonwealth countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized.

Jamaica and Uganda are among the Commonwealth countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized. The Privy Council, a British appellate court, in recent years ruled against marriage rights for same-sex couples in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

The two British territories fall under the Privy Council’s jurisdiction.

“We send our deepest condolences to the Royal Family on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” said Stonewall, a British LGBTQ+ and intersex rights group, in a statement after Buckingham Palace announced Elizabeth’s death. “At this sad time we reflect on the the end of a very significant era for the U.K.”

Mermaids, a group that advocates on behalf of Transgender and other gender non-conforming young people, echoed Stonewall.

We’re very sad to hear of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” tweeted Mermaids. “Our thoughts are with King Charles III and all of the Royal Family at this deeply difficult time.”

“While its unfortunate to hear the family has lost a mother, as an LGBT citizen of the commonwealth, she represented institutions like the Privy Council that have reversed LGBT rights protections for Caribbean Countries and territories that still have the Privy Council,” Caleb Orozco, an LGBTQ+ and intersex activist from Belize, told the Washington Blade after Elizabeth died. “The death of a queen does not absolve its institutions from its responsibility to show its substantive commitment to LGBT rights in the Caribbean.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is among the myriad world leaders who also mourned Elizabeth’s passing.

“It was with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada’s longest-reigning sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” tweeted Trudeau. “She was a constant presence in our lives — and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history.”

“As we look back at her life and her reign that spanned so many decades, Canadians will always remember and cherish Her Majesty’s wisdom, compassion and warmth,” added Trudeau. “Our thoughts are with the members of the Royal Family during this most difficult time.”

Elizabeth is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. 

Her eldest son King Charles III, 73, is her heir. Elizabeth’s grandson Prince William is now second in line to the throne.

In Washington President Joe Biden, in a proclamation, ordered that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, on the day of interment.  

The President also directed that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

In a statement issued by the White House, the President noted:

“In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her. An enduring admiration for Queen Elizabeth II united people across the Commonwealth. The seven decades of her history-making reign bore witness to an age of unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity.” Biden added;

“Supported by her beloved Prince Philip for 73 years, Queen Elizabeth II led always with grace, an unwavering commitment to duty, and the incomparable power of her example. She endured the dangers and deprivations of a world war alongside the British people and rallied them during the devastation of a global pandemic to look to better days ahead. Through her dedication to her patronages and charities, she supported causes that uplifted people and expanded opportunity. By showing friendship and respect to newly independent nations around the world, she elevated the cause of liberty and fostered enduring bonds that helped strengthen the Commonwealth, which she loved so deeply, into a community to promote peace and shared values.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom released a statement saying:

“California joins the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and people around the world in mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. […]

“Throughout her unprecedented seven decades on the throne, Queen Elizabeth remained true to that promise, providing an unwavering source of leadership, inspiration and stability through times of great social change and uncertainty while serving as matriarch to her own family. 

“As we reflect on her incomparable life and legacy, our hearts are with the King and the Queen Consort and the entire Royal Family during this time of great loss,” the governor added.

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