MEMBERS of the LGBTQ+ community are used to fighting for their rights.

So when the Government flip flopped over whether to ban conversion therapy, they took it in their stride.

Another battle for their rights as individuals and one they would not shy away from.

Conversion therapy is the use of methods, such as aversive stimulation or religious counselling, to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation.

It is also used in an attempt to persuade trans people to alter their gender identity to correspond with the sex they had at birth.

The practice has been described by NHS England as “unethical and potentially harmful”, and condemned by mental wellbeing charity Mind as something which has “a terrible impact on a person’s mental health”.

The Government pledged to end conversion therapy in 2018 under the then Prime Minister Theresa May.

But in March 2021, three advisers quit the Government’s LGBT advisory panel over worries it was acting too slowly on the ban.

A leaked Downing Street briefing paper last week showed Prime Minister Boris Johnson had dropped plans for the ban.

But just hours later – following outrage from LGBT campaigners and health charities – Number 10 U-turned again with a senior Government source quoted as saying the ban would feature in the next Queen’s Speech.

Adam Fox, Colchester Council’s Labour group leader, was among those who condemn the on-going prevarication.

He said: “I just think it’s outrageous, not only did they promise they would ban conversion therapy for everyone, I think they’ve been promising it for four years.

“It really effects the LGBT community. They’re our friends, family, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.

“We know people who have had to go through conversion therapy and how traumatising it is for them.

“As bad as the U-turn was originally, they’ve had a U-turn on the U-turn and reflected that actually it is important when it has always been important.

“If they’re going to ban it, then they need to protect everybody.”

Tracy Martinez, the awareness co-ordinator at the Colchester based LGBTQ+ charity the OutHouse, said: “It’s OK to be LGBTQ+. It’s OK to be different.

“We are all so different in so many ways and in no way do we need fixing. We are not broken.

“We want to celebrate our diversity and yet we are still being targeted for conversion therapy by individuals who do not accept us.

“The announcement should extend to the entire community.

“It is unbelievable that conversion therapy to change someone’s gender identity will still be legal.

“These practises are linked to some faith organisations, are unethical and potentially harmful.

“A Stonewall statistic shows 51 per cent of those subjected to a form of conversion therapy reported it was conducted by a faith organisation or group.

“We are diverse and should all be free to live our true and authentic lives and we will continue to campaign to change this abhorrent decision until conversion therapy in its entirety no longer poses a threat to our beautiful community.”