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Ending Conversion Practices in Ethnic and Religious Minority Communities

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Conversion Practices is the act of trying to change a person’s perceived gender or sexual orientation. Usually from identifying as being LGBTQIA+ to identifying as heterosexual. It is often associated with coercive practices or cultural pressure.

The UK seeks to be a global leader and champion of LGBT rights worldwide. To that end the Westminster government and Scottish Parliament began developing proposals for legislation on a ban of LGBT Conversion Practices in England and Wales, and Scotland respectively. This follows the introduction of similar bans in other western countries, like France, Canada, and Germany.

The only quantitative research commissioned so far by the UK Government, shows that ethnic minority people are more than twice as likely as white people to have been offered conversion therapy. The National LGBT Survey 2017, which had responses from over 108,000 LGBT people in the UK, found that Black/African/Caribbean/black British (13%) and Asian/Asian British (14%) respondents, and respondents belonging to an 'other' ethnic group (15%), were more likely than white (7%) respondents to have undergone or been offered conversion therapy.[1]With greater prevalence amongst transgender respondents.

The same study found that respondents were more likely to be offered Conversion Practices by medical and healthcare providers than in family settings. With transgender respondents being twice as likely as cisgender respondents to be offered CP by Medical and healthcare providers.[2]

This study only asked four questions about conversion practices.

Despite this, very limited research has been done so far to understand the depth, breath and impact of conversion practices in these communities. The work that has been done (including the National LGBT survey, and oral testimonies to the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee), did not successfully include representative data from different ethnic or religious minority communities.

This is important because ethnic and religious minority groups are underrepresented in policy development in the UK, and tend not to participate in government consultations.

There is a fear in ethnic minority communities that the proposed legislations, if not appropriately designed, further traumatise victims and creating unnecessary mental health burden, which must be picked up by the state. By having too many loopholes, or unfairly affecting different ethnic minority communities. Allowing conversion practices to continue, and discourage victims of conversion practices from reporting incidents, being believed, and/or retaining ties with their chosen communities/networks.

In response to the UK governments October 2021 consultation on proposals to Ban Conversion Therapy in England and Wales, Circular3 undertook some initial desktop research focused on ethnic and religious minority communities. To understanding the issues that need to be addressed, for any legislative response to have a successful end Conversion Practices in the UK.

The report can be downloaded here:

Desktop Study about Ending Conversion Practices in Ethnic Minority Communities in the UK M
Download • 178KB

The report found that:

  1. There is an urgent need for research into Conversion Practices in Ethnic and Religious minority Communities that focuses on hearing the voices of victims and people from these communities, to ensure representative protection in the development and application of any legislation.

  2. The need for access to safe culturally appropriate alternatives to conversion practices for people questioning their sexual or gender identify

  3. The legislative response must understand and respond to the wider culturally specific ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ factors, that lead people to being offer or undertaking conversion practices; and

  4. The legislative response must include wider non-criminal interventions, needed to change attitudes and the culture that leads allow conversion practices to exist in many ethnic and religious communities.

  5. The lack of resource and capacity within grassroots Ethnic and Religious minority LGBTQ+ organisations to gather the evidence needed to effectively advocate for this minority group within a minority group

This report has been submitted as evidence to the UK Government Equalities Office in response to the consultation. And as evidence to the Scottish Government’s Ending Conversion Practices Expert Advisory Group.

We continue to campaign along with other organisations for the further research and proper representation of Ethnic and Religious minority voices in the development and implementation of the legalisation in the UK.

Please reference this paper as:

Ogunmuyiwa, P. (2022) Banning Conversion Practices in Ethnic Minority Communities, Project Summary, Available form:

[1] Mike Freer: House of Commons - Written Answers - Women and Equalities Monday 28 March 2022 [2] Government Equalities Office (2018) National LGBT Survey: Research report. Government Equalities Office.


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