Is informed consent to LGBTQ+ ‘conversion therapy’ compatible with UK and International Human Rights Law?

This project aims to provide UK policymakers with new research to inform the drafting of new legislation to ban LGBTIQ+ ‘conversion therapy’ in Spring 2022. Specifically, the project team will research whether informed consent, as a defence to some forms of ‘conversion therapy’, is compatible with human rights law. 

In early November 2021 the UK Government opened a consultation on new legislation against LGBTIQ+ ‘conversion therapy’. According to the consultation documents, ‘informed consent’ is the only exception that a ban on ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK might allow for those aged over 18.

However, it is unclear whether ‘informed consent’ in this context is compatible with the existing domestic and international human rights laws in the UK. New, original research is urgently required because research on ‘informed consent’ in this context is entirely absent from the relevant legal scholarship.  

The project team will build on their extensive research on this subject, published in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies and Legal Studies. These have been widely cited, including by the UK Parliament’s POSTnote on this subject and by the highly influential Cooper Report: Recommendations on effectively legislating for a ban on conversion practices. 

The team has established a range of policy connections to speedily disseminate the research findings including the Government Equalities Office, leading legal practitioners, and human rights campaigners and groups such as the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition (members include NGOs such as Stonewall, Ozanne Foundation and Mermaids).