Boris Johnson faced backlash from 60 Tory MPs over plans to scrap conversion therapy ban

Sixty Conservative MPs including ministers contacted Boris Johnson and his whips to protest against the move to scrap a ban on conversion therapy, according to those who led the pushback.

Mike Freer, the minister for equalities, is understood to have made clear his discomfort at the new position in a phone call with the Prime Minister on Thursday evening.

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary who has an equalities brief, also had a short conversation with Mr Johnson and let her broad support for the ban be known to colleagues backing that stance.

Some MPs directly messaged Mr Johnson to express their discontent.

“I think the whips were really shocked by the strength of feeling”, said one MP involved in attempts to keep the ban.

The intense pressure from Tory MPs helps explain why the Prime Minister performed an abrupt about-turn within hours on the issue.

Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. It mainly takes place in religious settings.

Mr Johnson had long supported a legal ban on the practice but on Thursday evening ITV News published a leaked government briefing note revealing he would abandon the promise.

Hours later, however, there was another switch in position as Mr Johnson decided he would actually go ahead with a ban on conversion therapy, although under modified terms.

The new Downing Street position, which is still being locked down, is that conversion therapy for homosexuals will be banned explicitly by law but not necessarily for transgender people.

Concerns over consequences for health professionals

Some Tory MPs have voiced concern that a total ban could have unintended consequences on health professionals helping children struggling with gender dysphoria.

Government sources familiar with the policy have expressed frustration that the leak meant they could not set out their new position with all its nuance.

The backlash could still continue despite the ban being readopted by Mr Johnson.

The Telegraph has been told that two LGBT groups are considering pulling out of the “Safe To Be Me” equality conference being held in London from June 29 to July 1.

It is the “first ever global LGBT conference” held in the UK, according to the Government, and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first official London Pride marches.

The original ITV News report about the ban being scrapped was published when both Ms Truss and Mr Freer – the minister whom the briefing document speculated could quit – were on trips out of the country.

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