Humanists UK seek to ‘ban repentance’!



A recent UK Government consultation called for public opinion and response regarding the banning of so called ‘conversion therapy’ (aimed at re-orienting homosexuals to a heterosexual position).1 The Humanists UK (HUK) were quick to make their feelings known and subsequently posted their response on their website.2 HUK were adamant that attempts to change, or ‘suppress’ a person’s (homo) sexual orientation, by any means, is inherently “morally wrong.”3 One wonders how HUK defines what is “morally wrong” without reference to God, or ultimate moral standards.

However, it is the insidious state and legal over-reach into people’s lives implied in HUK’s statements that are of utmost concern for Christians, pastors, counsellors, and churches in the UK. Furthermore, such state overreach is already being called for in Europe4 and has been enshrined into law in Canada5, Australia6 and New Zealand.7 This amounts to nothing less than state-sanctioned persecution of Christianity.

Criminalizing repentance—yes really!

HUK are quite clear, consensual Christian counselling and prayer aimed at re-orienting unwanted homosexual desires should be criminalized. But as far as HUK are concerned, the UK government ban does not go far enough. They state:

“we believe this ban should include verbal communications… such as confessions/repentances, non-violent exorcisms, faith declarations, fasting, pilgrimages, and attendance on religious courses” (emphasis added).

HUK are seeking to criminalize repentance!8 In so doing, HUK is mounting a full-frontal attack on the gospel. According to them, a person’s sexual orientation is ‘fixed’, and doesn’t need changing. To define homosexual behaviour as anything else—i.e. ‘sinful’—is considered to be “deeply harmful.”2

A not-so-subtle definition change

Humanists UK seek to criminalize repentance.

But what exactly does ‘conversion therapy’ entail? The UK government consultation document includes the following practices that have been reportedly used: “rape”, “assault”, “forcibly administering drugs”,1 and ‘electric shock therapy’.6 Such barbaric practices are rightfully criminalized, as stated in the UK Government consultation. However, not all conversion techniques are harmful, and much science backs-up their efficacy.9 Furthermore, biblically practising pastors and councillors would be the first to condemn torture and abuse of vulnerable people as evil practices. New Testament teaching calls everyone to repentance in an attitude of love and humility (cf. 1 John 1:8). Christ Himself called sinners to repentance, but with grace and kindness (cf. John 8:7).

It is clear that the definition of ‘conversion therapy’ has been widened to include consensual prayer and counselling. This strikes to the heart of the Church’s mission to the world. It is an affront to the gospel, which calls sinners to repentance.

Call to action

Christian leaders in the UK have rightly been deeply alarmed at the potential clash for Christians if the law is changed to include this new definition of conversion therapy. 2,500 church leaders (representing hundreds of thousands of people) wrote to Liz Truss, (Minister for Women and Equalities), stating they are willing to be “criminalised” if the anticipated legislation prohibits them from teaching their faith.10 Six signatories who attended the government meeting were “concerned” that the UK Government does not understand “the difference between a quack therapy and a call to live according to Christian teaching.”10

The outcome was that a government spokesman for equality stated: “The Government’s proposals to ban conversion therapy will not impact everyday religious practice”.10 However, it remains to be seen if such protections will be guaranteed—because they haven’t been in other countries.

Creation-based ethics

Scripture is clear, God created humans in His Image as male and female (Genesis 1:27). There are therefore only two biological genders. Marriage is the only biblically sanctioned institution where human sexuality is to be expressed and celebrated, without which the divine mandate to be “fruitful and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28) would not be possible. The Bible’s account of Creation is the moral foundation by which we understand gender and sexuality.


It surely is a wake-up call for Christians to be aware of what’s happening in Western culture. If such a ban becomes legal, practicing the gospel would be criminalized, as it has been under despotic regimes now, and in the past. Those who seek to repent from sexual practices clearly forbidden in Scripture (Romans 1:24–27) must be allowed to re-align their lives with Scripture. Therefore, attempts by governments to legislate against Christian practice leading to repentance must be resisted at all cost.

CMI is here to help

CMI is here to help Christians in their ministry of preaching the gospel. To this end a helpful resource has been produced to aid biblical thinking and practice in the delicate area of correct human sexuality. We therefore recommend Gay Marriage: right or wrong? And who decides? By Gary Bates and Lita Cosner.

Published: 22 February 2022

References and notes

  1. Updated 9 December 2021, gov.uk/government/consultations/banning-conversion-therapy/banning-conversion-therapy. Return to text.
  2. Government Equalities Office consultation: banning conversion therapy, response from LGBT Humanists, humanists.uk, January 2022. Return to text.
  3. HUK cites the Cooper Report 2021. Return to text.
  4. For instance, MPs propose bill to outlaw ‘gay conversion’ therapy in Netherlands, dutchnews.nl, 14 February 2022. “The law would provide for fines of up to €22,500 and a jail sentence of one year, or two years for repeat offenders [practitioners of conversion therapy].” Return to text.
  5. Hauser, C., Canada bans ‘Conversion Therapy’, The New York Times, nytimes.com, 6 January 2022. Return to text.
  6. The Victoria legislation is draconian and criminalizes counsellors’ attempts at changing, or supressing unwanted homosexual desire in those seeking change. “They risk criminal prosecution (5 to 10-year jail terms), loss of professional indemnity insurance cover, discipline by health regulatory bodies and/or severe fines ($98,000 or $200,000).” The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021, 5(1), dlp.org.au, accessed 14 Feb 2022. Return to text.
  7. Neilson, M., Gay conversion therapy bill passes third reading in Parliament, 15 February 2022, nzherald.co.nz. Return to text.
  8. The Christian Institute, Humanists want repentance banned under conversion therapy law, 12 February 2022, christian.org.uk. Return to text.
  9. Bates, G. and Cosner, L., Gay marriage: right or wrong? And who decides? CBP, USA, pp. 21–22, 2013. Return to text.
  10. Dixon, H., Christian teachings to be protected from conversion therapy ban, says Government, telegraph.co.uk, 12 February 2022. Return to text.