Calls for LGBT conversion therapy to be made illegal in the UK will be debated by MPs after thousands of people signed a petition on parliament’s website.
The government said in July that it wanted to ban attempts to suppress an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, but campaigners say they are still waiting for action.
They say people are being exposed to psychological and emotional abuse.
The prime minister says the practice is “abhorrent”.
The term “conversion therapy” refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity.
It can range from electric shock treatment to religious teachings or talking therapies designed to change someone’s sexuality.
The practice is already outlawed in Switzerland and parts of Australia, Canada and the US.
The petition, which has attracted more than 250,000 signatures, says running conversion therapy treatments in the UK should be made a criminal offence.
It says forcing people to attend these treatments or sending them abroad in order to try to convert them should be outlawed.
The petition states: “Despite all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies in the UK, including the NHS, condemning LGBT conversion therapy, it is still legal and LGBT individuals in the UK are still exposed to this psychological and emotional abuse to this day.
The very thought of this sickens me, and I would like to see it stopped one day.”
Boris Johnson said in July that the practice was “absolutely abhorrent” and “has no place in this country”.
Ministers have yet to publish details of the ban – which was first proposed by Theresa May in 2018 – but said they had commissioned research and would outline their plans “in due course”.
In December, more than 370 religious leaders from around the world, added their voice to calls to outlaw the practice.
In response to the petition, the government said it is “committed to ensuring all citizens feel safe and protected from harm”.
Ministers vowed to “work to deepen our understanding and consider all options for ending the practice of conversion therapy”.
The debate will be held on Monday and the government will send a minister to respond.
E-petitions are a way for members of the public to influence what is debated in Parliament.
Anyone can start a petition, as long as they are a British citizen or a UK resident.
When a petition passes 100,000 signatures, it is considered for debate by a cross-party committee of MPs.