Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Gender Non-conforming Young People

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 10:15 pm ar 15 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities) 10:15, 15 Ebrill 2024

That is exactly why the Cass report is so important. It is very carefully considered, and the Government now need to take the time to consider our response. None the less, the hon. Gentleman is right: when young people are deciding to come out or are wondering whether they are lesbian or gay, they should have the support that they need to help them to do that. We recognise that some may not have the sort of family support that I was fortunate enough to enjoy. I am blessed with an amazing family who were very supportive of me, but I do recognise that that is not the case for many others. The hon. Gentleman has made some important points and, as I committed to a moment ago, I will ensure that I write to my colleagues in the Department for Health and Social Care with the questions that he raises.

It is important to point out that we work in partnership with the Department for Education as well, because we need to ensure that there is plenty of work going on in the anti-bullying arena. The hon. Gentleman alluded to some of the pressures that the people he has spoken to have felt. That is why we have allocated a further £3 million of funding, divided between five anti-bullying organisations, to tackle bullying in school. That is on top of the £4 million that has already been spent in this area since 2016, and this includes projects that specifically target anti-LGBT hate-related bullying.

In October 2022, we launched a victim support service for anyone affected by, or at risk of, conversion practices, regardless of sexual orientation, sex or transgender identity, and the helpline is there to provide support and information to anyone over the age of 13. As I have said on many occasions, conversion practices are not a one-way street. Conversion practices—changing somebody from what they believe they are to something else—are, in my view, abhorrent and clearly wrong. As I say, it can go either way, and it is really important that we acknowledge that.

I have also done a lot of work on homelessness. I have seen so many instances of young people who find themselves in these challenging areas ending up homeless. That could be because of that lack of family support that I mentioned or because of mental health issues. That is why last year I and the Minister responsible for homelessness convened a roundtable for local authorities and charitable organisations to ensure that we provide tailored support for LGBT people, which is something that we take incredibly seriously.

The hon. Member also mentioned the issues in Scotland. It would not be responsible for me to answer on the Scottish Government’s behalf, and I do not want to do that. But in terms of what we are doing here, we want to ensure that children are prepared for life in modern Britain, and they need to understand the world in which they are growing up. That is why the statutory guidance states that all pupils should receive teaching on LGBT content during their school years, including in secondary schools.