The Greater Manchester
LGBTQ+ Equality Panel
Established in 2022, the panel aims to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the city-region by championing equality, community-driven efforts and intersectionality.
Made up of volunteers from diverse LGBTQ+ communities across Greater Manchester, the panel centres the lived experiences of marginalised individuals and works towards ensuring LGBTQ+ interests are central in all aspects of running and planning for the future of Greater Manchester.
We invite members of LGBTQ+ communities in Greater Manchester, especially those affected by intersecting marginalisation, to share their thoughts on what can be done to improve LGBTQ+ lives using the button below.
The Greater Manchester LGBTQ+ Equality Panel is one of seven panels established by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to address inequality and injustice in the region. Our aim is to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people across the city-region by ensuring that their voices and experiences are represented in all aspects of running and planning for the future of Greater Manchester.
Our panel is made up of LGBTQ+ volunteers from across Greater Manchester who bring their lived experiences and diverse perspectives to our work. As a community-driven advisory panel, we centre the experiences of marginalised communities, including disabled LGBTQ+ people and Queer, Transgender and Intersex People of Colour (QTIPOC).
At the Greater Manchester LGBTQ+ Equality Panel, we recognise the intersectionality of marginalisation and strive to address multiple forms of oppression experienced by LGBTQ+ people across the region. Through our community-driven and intersectional approach, we advocate for policies and practices that promote equality and inclusivity for all LGBTQ+ people.
Some of our initiatives include creating safe spaces for marginalised communities, providing guidance to organisations on intersectional approaches to equality, and amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities.
The Greater Manchester LGBTQ+ Equality Panel is committed to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the region. We work closely with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and local organisations to create positive change through policy recommendations and advocacy. Some of our recent accomplishments include passing a trans-inclusive and consent loop-hole free pledge to end conversion therapy through the GM Combined Authority (GMCA) as well as demanding access to high-quality, gender affirming healthcare for trans children and young people.
Our work is backed by research and data that highlight the ongoing struggles and inequalities experienced by LGBTQ+ people across Greater Manchester. Through our partnerships with local organisations and community members, we have been able to identify areas of concern and develop evidence-based recommendations for policy change.
Greater Manchester LGBTQ+ Equality Panel Annual Review 2022:
The Greater Manchester LGBTQ+ Equality Panel is one of seven panels established by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to tackle inequality and injustice in the region. Its aim is to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people across the city-region by championing LGBTQ+ inclusion and ensuring that the interests and voices of Greater Manchester’s (GM) diverse LGBTQ+ communities inform all aspects of planning for the future of Greater Manchester. The panel is made up of LGBTQ+ volunteers from across GM, all of whom represent the rich diversity of the city-regions LGBTQ+ community.
2022 represented a momentous year for the LGBTQ+ Equality Panel with its reestablishment under a new facilitating organisation, LGBT Foundation. Following the successful recruitment of a new cohort of Panel members, priorities for 2022 were focused on deciding the Panel’s foundational operations and aims. After much discussion, the Panel decided upon three primary core objectives:
Places & Spaces: all parts of GM are accessible, safe and welcoming for all LGBTQ+ people and communities.
Counting us in: all publicly funded services in GM consistently and appropriately record sexual orientation and trans status, and use this insight and other data to improve services for LGBTQ+ people.
Inclusion as standard: all new and existing public policy in GM is LGBTQ+ inclusive, and, where appropriate, there are specific policies in place to support and protect LGBTQ+ people.
To take the three primary core objectives forward, the Panel established the following three workgroups based on high-priority issues facing LGBTQ+ communities in Greater Manchester:
Work with Police and other blue light services to ensure that our communities are appropriately served and improve recording of hate crime and domestic abuse.
Improve access to public spaces for all LGBTQ+ people by ensuring that leisure facilities, public toilets, etc are inclusive and accessible.
Work with public bodies to increase sign-up to conversion therapy-free city region pledge.
Following the establishment of core objectives and workgroups, the Panel was formally launched on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism & Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). This launch was accompanied by the announcement of the Greater Manchester Pledge to End Conversion Therapy which commits to making GM a conversion therapy-free city-region. Initial signatories included The Mayor of Greater Manchester, and GM’s LGBTQ+ sector leaders, among others. To read more on this pledge, please follow this link: https://lgbt.foundation/gmpanel/pledge-to-end-conversion-therapy.
In August, the Panel’s attendance at Manchester Pride was an exciting opportunity to raise awareness of the group amongst the region’s LGBTQ+ communities. The Panel’s stall presence across the weekend provided the thousands of Pride attendees with an invaluable opportunity to speak directly to Panel members. Conversations were wide ranging but largely centred upon the Panel’s actions and priorities as well as giving a platform for LGBTQ+ people to feedback their views on what should be done to achieve LGBTQ+ equality. Following the success of this event, the Panel hopes to attend more of the Pride events taking place across GM in 2023, where they will be able to continue these vital conversations with the region’s LGBTQ+ communities.
Autumn soon approached, bringing with it an exciting opportunity for the Panel to meet with The Mayor of GM, Andy Burnham. An evening of rich discussion enabled each of workgroups to present to The Mayor. Several asks were made of Andy, and he committed his support and the GMCA’s resources to promoting LGBTQ+ equality across the region. Specifically, The Mayor encouraged direct engagement between Panel members and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to improve hate crime monitoring and reporting. Andy also spoke on the importance of collaboration between all Equality Panels in advising GM’s leaders on increasingly polarised debates, which often slow progress towards equality. The Mayor also reaffirmed his dedication to LGBTQ+ equality by committing to bring the Pledge to End Conversion Therapy to November’s GMCA meeting. The Mayor stood firm to his commitment to the Pledge, taking it to the GMCA Board in November. The Board unanimously passed the Pledge, adopting a trans-inclusive and consent loop-hole free definition of conversion therapy.
Throughout November, the attention of the Panel was directed towards a public consultation on the proposed interim service specification for specialist gender dysphoria services for children and young people operated by NHS England (https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/specialised-commissioning/gender-dysphoria-services/). The Panel’s response to this consultation demonstrated an excellent application of the group’s collective lived and professional experience in support of protecting access to gender affirmative healthcare. The NHS’s response to the consultation is yet to be released but the Panel are prepared to act once more in defence of trans rights across GM and the UK more broadly.
2022 ended with the Panel taking part in anti-racism training to help the group implement anti-racist practice in all their work over the coming year and beyond. In particular, they focused on recruiting and retaining members from Queer, Trans and Intersex People of Colour (QTIPoC) communities through recognising the barriers which hinder engagement from these communities and implementing anti-racist practices that seek to reduce these barriers. Conversations surrounding how the Panel can commit to anti-racism will be on-going through 2023 and beyond.
After a successful first year, the Panel and its members look forward to expanding their collective and individual impact over 2023, putting into action their policy suggestions and research findings. The Panel’s emerging priorities throughout the coming year include recruitment to ensure we are as representative of the communities we serve as possible, producing a communications strategy that promotes greater community engagement, implementing the commitments made in the Greater Manchester Pledge to End Conversion Therapy, and continuing conversations with the GMCA about how to better integrate the Panel and LGBTQ+ equality.
If you have any questions about the Panel or would like to have a say in what the Panel seeks to achieve in 2023, please share your thoughts through this link:
Or emails us at:
A CONVERSION THERAPY BRIEFING SHEET – October 2023
Content note: this briefing document includes statistics of and references to experiences of conversion practices. Please read with your wellbeing firmly in mind, and please reach out for support.
National Campaign – Overview
Conversion “therapy” or practices are any interventions with a predetermined outcome aimed at changing, suppressing, or “curing” a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Sticking to this precise definition is useful as it avoids misinformation and misappropriation of the cause.
This definition specifically excludes things like gender affirmative care and any form of genuine therapeutic explorations, which do not have predetermined outcomes but are based on letting individuals safely explore identity.
This definition also provides a level of clarity around ambiguous religious and cultural practices that may try to get exemptions from protective legislation and policies.
The BCT (Banning Conversion Therapy) coalition has led on national responses, including setting up a useful briefing sheet for MPs based on their legislative asks.
Primary legislative concerns are around the following:
Ban needs to be trans inclusive (i.e., affecting both gender identity and sexual orientation), based on international standards set in places like Canada, France, and New Zealand. The latest draft of the bill is reported to be inclusive of gender identity, but this has not yet been confirmed by the Government.
Ban cannot have a consent loophole for anyone as conversion practices are, by nature, coercive and abusive. Such a loophole would likely increase the burden of proof for survivors, adding to their trauma and making it harder for other survivors to come forward. Similar legislation for other practices (e.g., FGM) do not allow for a consent loophole.
Ban must not provide exemptions based on religious or cultural practice. This is a stance supported by several major faith and cultural organisations as well as LGBTQ+-specific groups.
There is strong and consistent public support for a full and inclusive ban, as evidenced by a 2022 YouGov study. Equity and rights are fundamental to human existence, not based on majority consensus, but it is noteworthy that such a significant majority are clearly supportive of a ban that protects against all forms of conversion therapy practices.
A bill to ban conversion therapy has been drafted for months but it now sits with the PM and secretaries of state to take it forwards. It is unlikely that the bill will be passed before the next general election and there has been no information or communication to counter this belief.
In Scotland, it is unlikely that any legislation will be passed before the next Scottish elections in 2026. Representatives from Northern Ireland also feel it is unlikely legislation will be passed before their next elections.
Situation in Manchester – Overview
LGBT Foundation Helpline has received multiple calls from local survivors asking for support, despite our Helpline and services not having an explicit conversion practice element. This included 11 new calls in the 2020/2021 period when conversion practice legislation was being publicly discussed.
Dedicated Galop survey around sexual violence shows that at least 23% of LGBTQ+ respondents have been made to undergo some form of conversion practice in their lifetime. While there is no specific regional breakdown, this does explicitly include respondents from the North-West of England.
The vast majority of calls to the LGBT Foundation Helpline were from people who underwent these practices under some form of coercion and made it very clear that they would not have given consent if they knew that the process would be “inhuman torture”.
Survivors spoke about instances happening within religious or cultural settings, where the perpetrators were protected by a lack of understanding of what constitutes “conversion practice/therapy” by statutory bodies and support services.
Some calls to the Helpline consisted of people who had been recently recommended or had recently considered conversion practice based on public perception and societal pressure, once again citing a lack of guidance from statutory bodies and support services.
In June 2022, a church group was denied planning permission to set up a new place of worship based on their prior history with conversion practices – an encouraging development in terms of GM response but a reminder that these practices continue to be promoted even now.
GM Pledge and Next Steps
The Greater Manchester (GM) pledge is committed to ending all conversion practices in the city-region, which specifically refers to a full and inclusive ban covering both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Signatories for the initial pledge are:
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
Kate Green, Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester
Bev Craig, Leader, Manchester City Council
Dr Paul Martin, Chief Executive, LGBT Foundation
Carl Austin-Behan (in his former role as LGBTQ+ Advisor to the Mayor)
Paul Dennett, City Mayor, Salford City Council
Mark Fletcher, CEO, Manchester Pride
Lisa Harvey-Nebil, Chief Executive Officer, The Proud Trust
Tim Sigsworth, Chief Executive, AKT
Darren Knight, Chief Executive, George House Trust
Update in November 2022:
At the monthly meeting of the GMCA, all members, including the leaders of each of the ten boroughs, agreed to pass the End Conversion Therapy Pledge. With this, the GMCA demonstrated its commitment to a trans-inclusive, loop-hole free definition of conversion therapy and its intention to implement this definition to end conversion therapy across the city-region.
Update in October 2023:
In the absence of and continual delays around a national ban, the work on this Pledge is still important in GM.
Notes for best practice:
Community responses to the national parliamentary consultation as well as direct calls to LGBT Foundation’s support services highlight the following necessities:
Public buy-in and clarity from statutory services and public bodies.
Understanding that these practices are not simply a relic of the past but are continuing even today.
Recognising that these practices are not just concerned with healthcare spaces (which is the popular understanding of them) but also happen in social and interpersonal settings, particularly religious and cultural settings.
The precedent for regional action:
There have been regional bans that have been instituted across the world where national legislatures have not acted. A recent example is in Madras, India, where local authorities have actively criminalised conversion practices aimed at both sexual orientation and gender identity. Thus, there is global precedent for the GMCA to take direct action even before the national Government does.
Within the UK, devolved Governments are already pursuing dedicated legislation in the event that Westminster does not take this up in the next legislative agenda. Thus, there is national pressures within the UK for regions to lead by examp
LGBTQ+ Equality Panel welcomes the decision of Greater Manchester Combined Authority to formally adopt policy to help end LGBTQ+ conversion therapy across the city region
On Friday 25 November 2022, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA)’s Board unanimously agreed to adopt a policy aimed at ending conversion therapy, which is any attempt to change, surpress or “cure” a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
GMCA took action on the recommendation of its LGBTQ+ Equality Panel after National Government’s failure to implement a nationwide ban on conversion therapy, despite the Government having pledged to do so repeatedly since 2018.
As a result, GMCA and its member local authorities across Greater Manchester have now committed to ensuring that organisations which ‘support, promote, or facilitate conversion therapy or which campaign against the ending of conversion therapy’ are not able to ‘provide services on behalf of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, or to receive support from the GMCA or its affiliated community funding streams.’ This makes Greater Manchester the first city-region in the country to make such a commitment to protect its LGBTQ+ residents from conversion therapy.
Siân Lambert, Co-chair of the GM LGBTQ+ Equality Panel said:
‘There is ample evidence that conversion therapy doesn’t work and has long-term negative effects on many people who are subjected to it. Whilst there is almost unanimous condemnation of conversion attempts from healthcare leaders and we thankfully no longer live in the world in which Alan Turing was ordered by a court to undergo conversion therapy, these harmful practices do continue, often behind closed doors in the guise of religion or pseudo-science.
‘This pledge sends out a strong statement, not only that these harmful practices won’t be tolerated in Greater Manchester, but also that organisations who seek to harm LGBTQ+ people won’t be funded to operate in our inclusive city region.’
Brian Boag, Co-chair of the GM LGBTQ+ Equality Panel added:
‘The Panel is grateful for the leadership shown by the Mayor and the whole GMCA Board in signing up to this pledge. Greater Manchester has long had a reputation for being a safe and welcoming city region for LGBTQ+ people and our community will feel reassured that their leaders are doing everything they can to protect us from these harmful practices.’
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said:
‘We are proud to make this commitment and send a clear message about our values here in Greater Manchester. We stand together with the LGBTQ+ community across our city-region in opposing and ending conversion therapy in all its forms, and urge other public bodies, organisations and businesses to join us in this pledge.’
Dr Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive of LGBT Foundation said:
‘LGBT Foundation recognise the urgent need for a long-overdue national ban on conversion therapy practices for all members of LGBTQ+ communities. Against a national background of consistent retracted promises and further delays on an inclusive conversion therapy ban, this announcement further illustrates Greater Manchester’s commitment to equality for all. LGBT Foundation looks forward to collaborating further with the GMCA and the GM LGBTQ+ Equality Panel on ensuring this ban is operational and enforced across the region.’
GMCA also adopted a formal definition of conversion therapy which aligns with that adopted by leading medical organisations, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of GPs and NHS England:
‘Conversion “therapy” or practices are any interventions with a predetermined outcome aimed at changing, suppressing, or “curing” a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.’
This definition avoids misinformation and misappropriation of the issue of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy. It specifically excludes things like gender affirmative care and any form of genuine therapeutic explorations which do not have predetermined outcomes but are based on letting individuals safely explore identity, and therefore safeguards any health practitioner. The definition also provides a level of clarity around ambiguous religious and cultural practices that may try to get exemptions from protective legislation and policies, such as attempting to ‘pray away the gay’.
A non-exhaustive list conversion therapy practices includes pseudo-scientific counselling sessions; being induced to ingest “purifying” substances; corrective rape; being prayed over as a form of “healing”; and exorcisms.
The Government’s National LGBT Survey (2018) found that:
2% of respondents had previously undergone conversion therapy in an attempt to ‘cure’ them of being LGBT, and a further 5% had been offered it.
Trans respondents were much more likely to have undergone or been offered conversion therapy (13%) than cisgender (non-trans) respondents (7%)
LGBTQ+ people of colour were almost twice as likely to be affected, and there was strong variation by religion/belief.
Of those who had undergone conversion therapy:51% said that faith organisations had conducted this
19% said healthcare providers or medical professionals had conducted this
16% said their parents, guardians or other family members had conducted this
Following a meeting with the Greater Manchester LGBTQ+ Equality Panel in October 2022, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester raised an urgent business item at the November GMCA Board meeting to obtain formal agreement from the Board for the Panel’s GM Pledge to End Conversion Therapy. A recording of the GMCA Board meeting can be found on GMCA’s website (item begins at 14:05).