Sheffield stands against conversion therapy at City Hall protest

Around 200 protesters gathered in Sheffield City Centre on Saturday to protest against the UK government outlawing conversion therapy for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual people – but not Transgender people.

The protest was organised by the Sheffield Against Conversion Therapy group, and chants and speakers were heard from outside the City Hall between 11am-12pm.

“The people united, will never be divided,” was a chant head on the day which echoed the sentiments of those standing up for trans rights.

Blake May, 24, an attendee said: “It was the biggest protest I’ve ever seen in Sheffield. It’s great to see so many people standing up for the people that often aren’t given a voice.”

There was a sea of trans pride flags at the protest.

Similar protests have taken place across the UK since the Government’s U-turn on the conversion therapy ban, in cities such as London, Norwich, and Manchester.

The Government’s legislation will mean that therapy to attempt to change people’s sexuality will be outlawed, but practices to try to change people’s gender identity will not.

Kelsey Bubb, 22, who also attended the protest said: “If the government can see the harm in conversion therapy for gay people, they need to acknowledge the harm it will cause for trans people.”

She added that “it’s not a true ban when it excludes such a large community.”

In 2019 the government launched a public consultation on the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, where the public where asked to vote “for” or “against” making the procedure for gender self-identification easier, a process which is often exhausting and costly for trans people.

Even though 70 percent of the public voted in favour of the reform, it was scrapped by the government.

On 31 March, the government made a public announcement on conversion ban legislation, and despite years of campaigning and protest, the ban was scrapped.

As a result of widespread backlash by outraged MPs and members of the public, the government made a U-turn and said that it would be moving forward with the ban – but only for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has described gay conversion therapy as “abhorrent” but has said “there are complexities and sensitivities when you move from the area of sexuality to the question of gender.”

He argued that we should simply show “love and support” to those who transition.

A protestor’s sign at the protest on Saturday.

A member of the LGBTQ+ community, who wished to remain anonymous, said that “by banning conversion therapy for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people but not for transgender people, the government puts themselves in a position to receive praise for doing the bare minimum.”

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