Terms of reference of the Working Group on Banning Conversion Practices.
The Welsh Government recognises the urgency of banning conversion practices in Wales, for both sexual orientation and gender identity.
A commitment was made by the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership Hannah Blythyn MS in a statement on 26 April 2022 to ‘use all available powers to ban all aspects of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy and seek the devolution of any necessary additional powers’ and to establish a Working Group of experts to advise on key elements of this work.
The non-statutory Working Group will advise on proposed actions to ban conversion practices in Wales. It will explore both legislative and non-legislative measures, which would ensure protection for LGBTQ+ communities whilst ensuring freedoms are safeguarded, including freedoms of speech, religion, and belief.
The Group is time-limited (6 months), and its main output will be evidence-based recommendations to Ministers and policy officials to inform the Welsh Government’s approach to ending conversion practices.
Recognising the advisory nature of the group, Welsh Ministers and Welsh Government officials will commit to considering carefully recommendations made by the Group.
Remit and function
The purpose of the Group will be to offer advice on banning conversion practices in Wales.
The Working Group will have the following main functions:
- recommending an agreed definition of conversion practices
- advising on potential additional actions to ban conversion practices
- advising on the extent and suitability of existing support services for survivors in Wales
- advising on the design of a campaign to educate on the dangers of conversion practices and highlight support services
In a first-of-its-kind report published in 2019, OutRight International found that conversion practices are occurring nearly everywhere in the world. Religion, faith, or spirituality were the most cited reasons for undergoing conversion therapy. UK data also suggests that, of people who received conversion practices in their lifetime:
- c.51% said a faith organisation or group had carried it out
- c.19% carried out by healthcare providers or medical professional;
- c.16% in family or house settings
Therefore, the Working Group membership will include individuals who are experts in:
- LGBTQ+ support groups
- faith and belief organisations and communities
- health and social care
- mental health
- rights of the child and human rights
- people with personal lived experience of conversion practices
Conversion practices have been reported in mental health, psychiatric and other healthcare settings as well as in religious settings; therefore, it will be crucial to understand the current positions among those groups.
The Working Group will consist of individuals which will be invited for their expertise and/or experience concerning Conversion Practices. A direct invitation to individuals which cannot be delegated to someone else.
Membership of the group will be by invitation and members will be appointed by the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership.
The working group will be chaired by a senior Welsh Government official. Secretariat will be provided by LGBTQ+ policy officials.
Functioning of the group and reporting
The Group will meet approximately monthly across 6 months, for a total of 6 meetings, to discuss issues, recommendations and to deliver its findings, mostly remotely but with consideration given to in-person meetings were deemed necessary. Discussions will be minuted, although contributions will not be attributed to specific individuals.
Interim reports, advice and final recommendations will be provided to the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership via officials.
The Deputy Minister for Social Partnership may also seek advice from the LGBTQ+ Expert Panel as she considers advice on this topic. One person from the Expert Panel will be invited to join the Working Group meeting to ensure two-way communication between the two groups.
All members are expected to engage with respect for each other, for Welsh Government Officials and for any others providing input or evidence.
Discussing Conversion Practices and advice in this area can be traumatic for survivors. Safeguarding measures will be required from all members when engaging directly with survivors. At the beginning of each meeting, a disclaimer will be read concerning sensitivity, trigger warnings and respect. Flexibility of time for the meeting will be ensured to allow conversations and sharing to flow when needed, with agendas designed and agreed accordingly.
Minutes and comments will not be attributed to specific individuals or organisations to protect their anonymity.
Any complaint about a member not meeting the high standards of behaviour expected from all members should be addressed to the chair or LGBTQ+ policy officials, who will discuss the matter initially with the chair.
If a complaint cannot be resolved speedily, Welsh Government will offer mediation to ensure that the group can continue to operate effectively.
If a resolution cannot be reached through mediation, officials may make recommendations to the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership who may ultimately remove members from the group.
All decisions taken by the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership in this respect are, final.