26 October 2023

Open Letter to Rishi Sunak about the proposed ban on “conversion therapy”

Written by Graham Nicholls

I have today written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak asking that the government finally make a decisive move to abandon the plan to pass a law to ban so-called “conversion therapy” – the full letter is below. We believe any such legislation, however well intentioned, is unnecessary, would breach human rights, and would result in criminalising most Christians. It will put Christian Ministers in jeopardy of breaking the law when they preach an orthodox position on sexuality and church members at risk when they talk to or pray for each other. We urge the Prime Minister to intervene to ensure this bill does not go forward.

I am also one of the authors of the Greater Love Declaration and we also recently called on the Government to drop plans for a ‘conversion therapy’ ban.

Open Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

I am the Director of Affinity, a network of over 1,200 churches and Christian organisations across the UK. You can read more about us on our website and social media pages.

We understand that the government has not yet decided whether to bring forward a bill to ban so-called “conversion therapy” in the King’s Speech this autumn.

We believe any such legislation, however well intentioned, would criminalise most ordinary Christians and church leaders for expressing mainstream, orthodox beliefs.

Therefore on behalf of our members, we would urge you to stand firm against this unreasonable curtailment of our freedom of thought and religion.

You will no doubt be aware of the traditional Christian teaching on marriage, sexuality and gender. This law would pose a substantial threat to the freedom of Christians to practise everyday aspects of their faith; it puts Christian ministers in jeopardy when they preach an orthodox position on sexuality and church members at risk when they pray for each other. Even a private conversation between two friends on the topic could fall foul of such a law. The practical effect of the bill will be to conflate the historic Christian teaching on sexuality and gender with abuse.

Apart from being virtually impossible to enforce, such a law would be discriminatory and a threat to the religious freedom of Christians and people of other faiths who have sincerely held views on these issues. We also believe it discriminates against individuals, denying their personal liberty to freely choose to seek prayer and pastoral support about their sexual orientation and desires.

We want to make it clear that we reject all forms of physical and emotional abuse, bullying, and any form of forced therapy. These are already covered by existing criminal law and we would support measures to clarify and strengthen this legislation.

We would welcome any further consultation on this with you and trust you will be guided in your decisions over the coming days.

Graham Nicholls
Director of Affinity

Written by
Graham Nicholls
Graham is the Director of Affinity and provides strategic leadership of the ministry teams oversees the day-to-day operations and regularly writes and speaks in the media. Graham is also one of the pastors of Christ Church Haywards Heath. He is married to Caroline and has three grown-up children, plenty of grandchildren and a wild dog.

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