IN JUST 24 HOURS after publishing, over 1,500 signatures from Christian leaders had been added to a letter in support of a full ban on ‘conversion therapy’. By Monday 28 February, 2,557 had signed, and the number continued to grow.

The letter was written by Christian groups who believe that the only meaningful ban on ‘conversion therapy’ is one which comprehensively prohibits the practice in all its forms. It was a direct counter to the harm caused by the ‘Ministers Consultation Response’. These Christian groups sought to care for those who were negatively impacted by the original letter, and to offer a loving, inclusive Christian alternative.

Representing a breadth of traditions and denominations, the signatories range from Anglican parish priests and Baptist church senior ministers to household names including the Rev Kate Bottley and the Rev Richard Coles.

Those who signed the letter, including Director of Ekklesia, Simon Barrow, reject the concept of one Christian view on human sexuality and gender identity, as well as one Christian view on ‘conversion therapy’. Their affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer identities is rooted in a breadth and depth of Christian theology; as is their heartfelt and informed desire to see an end to ‘conversion therapy’ in the United Kingdom, and around the world.

Naomi Nixon, CEO of the Student Christian Movement, said: “Conversion therapy’ damages people, and it is wrong. We saw so many members of the LGBTQ+ community hurt by the ‘Ministers Consultation Response’. We knew that the view that this horrific practice should continue is not held by all, or even most Christian Leaders. We want the LGBTQ+ community to know that they are seen and loved for who they are by so many of us.’

Luke Dowding, Executive Director of OneBodyOneFaith added: “Whilst it can often be felt that the church and its leaders are unloving, this letter goes some way to show that there is a significant number who want to share a different message. We saw the harm and pain that was caused by the letter written by Christian leaders at the end of 2021 and wanted to respond pastorally and firmly: Christian leaders DO support a full ban on ‘conversion therapy’ and want to see an end to this harmful practice.”

These sentiments echo those of the Rt Rev Gavin Collins, the Bishop of Dorchester, who has told the BBC that the original letter from ministers is “seeking to protect their own legal position, whereas the bill is seeking to protect the very safety of thousands and thousands of potentially vulnerable [people].” He added, “I am clear on which side of that divide I want to be on and I’m clear what side Jesus calls me to be on.”

At the time of writing, the letter from Christian leaders who support the ban has amassed more support than the ‘Ministers Consultation Response’ had at its time of submission.

The letter will be sent to Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and Minister for Women and Equalities, on 1 March 2022.

The Christian groups that wrote the letter include the following: Affirm: Baptists Together for LGBT+ Inclusion; Dignity and Worth; Diverse Church; House of Rainbow; Inclusive Church; Greenbelt; OneBodyOneFaith; Open Table Network; Progressive Christianity Network; Student Christian Movement; The Gathering – Cardiff; The Ozanne Foundation; Quest.

* Read the full letter and list of signatories here.

* Source: Student Christian Movement