The government has retracted its decision to U-turn on introducing a new law that bans conversion therapy in the UK.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May had initially promised back in 2018 that the highly controversial practice – which attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity – would be outlawed in the UK, just like is in many other countries across the globe.
“We will ban conversion therapy to prevent these abhorrent practices which can cause mental and physical harm,” vowed May in 2018.
“The ban will eliminate coercive practices which cause mental and physical harm to individuals and we will ensure the action we take to stop this practice is proportionate and effective and does not have unintended consequences.”
“People should be free to be themselves in the UK,” she concluded.
If you’re unfamiliar with what the practice involves, conversion therapy – which is also sometimes called cure therapy or reparative therapy – refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy, ranging from forms of therapy and prayer, to more extreme acts such as “exorcisms, physical violence and food deprivation”, that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or suppress a person’s gender identity.
It has, understandably, generated significant backlash, with LGBT charity Stonewall saying it is based on an assumption that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be “cured”.
The NHS and other professional bodies have warned that all forms of conversion therapy are “unethical and potentially harmful”.
“While ‘conversion therapy’ does not work, it is still extremely harmful, causing severe psychological damage to victims and survivors of this practice, and reinforcing the myth that there is something inherently wrong with being LGBTQ+ and that we can and should be brought out of existence,” added Dr. Christopher Owen – Inclusivity Development Manager at Manchester Pride.
Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously agreed to continue with May’s promise to bring forward legislation that bans conversion therapy – especially after there was outrage from campaigners, organisations, and celebrities – but early on Thursday evening, reports began emerging and several news outlets were said to have been informed by a government spokesperson that ministers had decided to drop the ban.
They would, instead, “proceed by reviewing how existing law can be deployed more effectively”.
A Downing Street briefing paper entitled “conversion therapy handling plan”, seen by ITV News on Thursday, said: “The PM has agreed we should not move forward with legislation to ban LGBT conversion therapy.”
The briefing warned of a “noisy backlash from LGBT groups and some parliamentarians when we announce we do not intend to proceed” – and the LGBT sector will see it “as a signal the government is uninterested in LGBT issues”.
News of the decision to scrap the ban had been heavily criticised since it broke, with Labour MP Chris Bryant, who is gay, most-notably calling it “a terrible betrayal of a promise and of a whole community”.
“So-called conversion therapists pray on tender hearts and do immeasurable harm,” he added.
Labour’s Anneliese Dodds also tweeted in response to the initial reports that it was an “outrageous decision”, adding that “a government that believes conversion therapy is acceptable in 21st Century Britain is no friend of the LGBT+ community.”
And Liberal Democrat equalities spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse, said it was “giving the green light to a form of torture in the UK”.
However, only about three and a half hours later after announcing its decision to U-turn, a Downing Street spokesman told Sky News, and other news outlets, that the government will in fact ban conversion therapy.
But controversially, it will only ban gay conversion therapy, not trans conversion therapy.
This has, of course, been met with criticism from some MPs and charities, with Rainbow Project notably saying any ban that didn’t include transgender people was “not a real ban”.
Labour MP Nadia Whittome also tweeted following the retracting of the U-turn that: “Boris Johnson has U-turned again after the strength of feeling and will ban conversion therapy for cisgender lesbian, gay and bisexual people but not trans people.
“It’s still not good enough. LGB comes with the T, and the Tories are not on our side.”
Look around brand new Coronation Street set as ITV unveils Weatherfield Precinct
The Coronation Street set has had a massive expansion, with a new Weatherfield Precinct unveiled today.
The location has often been name-checked in the popular soap, but for the first time, cast members will be able to film scenes there.
The set won’t hit our screens until 13 January – but The Manc headed down for a little sneak peek.
The two-storey Weatherfield Precinct set is built around a children’s play park, with a row of shops carefully constructed by the Coronation Street set designers.
There’s everything from a charity shop to a Chinese takeaway to a dessert bar.
Above the shops sits a row of maisonettes with a balcony running in front.
There’s incredible attention to detail throughout, from the litter on the floor (which includes a packet of a fictitious crisp brand) to the fake sausage rolls in the bakery windows to the washing lines nailed to the walls.
Everything has been deliberately weathered and aged, so it looks like it’s been there for decades rather than carefully built in 2022.
The new Weatherfield Precinct set was unveiled today by members of the cast including Jack P Shepherd, Sally Dynevor, Antony Cotton, Jimmi Harkishin, Daniel Brocklebank, Channique Sterling-Brown, Elle Mulvaney, Tanisha Gorey, James Craven and Colson Smith.
It’s been added as an extension to the existing iconic set, which spans 7.7 acres near MediaCityUK.
Producer Iain MacLeod said: “Hats off to our design and construction teams who have conjured a totally convincing new precinct for our drama! They took their inspiration from Salford’s many real-world, late 20th century shopping areas and what they have created is a brilliant, characterful space to tell a diverse range of stories.
“Expect to see teens hanging out at the dessert shop, families enjoying the play area and, after dark, a rogues’ gallery, up to shady business in the ginnels. I am really excited by the arrival on screen of this much discussed but never seen corner of the Weatherfield universe.”
Head of design Rosie Mullins explained the process: “Back in 2013 Coronation Street moved into its new home at Media City. With this move came exciting potential to continue to develop and expand our Weatherfield Community onsite.
“The first expansion came in the form of Victoria Street and Weatherfield Police Station builds back in 2018.
“In February 2021 I set about the first pencil drawings for a very exciting new exterior build – Weatherfield Precinct. We have often heard about this precinct and although we have filmed over the years at a range of shopping locations, we had never established our own Weatherfield Precinct.
“It had always intrigued me – what would it look like and who would we find there? The opportunity to bring to life a colourful and grittier area of Weatherfield was so exciting!
“Weatherfield Precinct was inspired by the 1960s shopping precincts that we see across many areas of the UK. In designing this the team gathered hundreds of images with a particular focus given to those in our local Manchester and Salford area. I wanted there to be aspects of the Precinct that people from all walks of life identify with and recognise. I wanted it to reflect how communities develop but aspects of them can also feel like stepping back in time.
“In this Precinct we find an array of businesses, a playground, residential flats, a small ginnel, Weatherfield community hub and a very colourful community recycling centre.
“Working with Iain on what the writing team needs from the Precinct has meant that we have managed to pack so much into this new set! I cannot wait to see the arrival onscreen of Sweety Nuff dessert & milkshake shop, Gregory Pope Foundation Charity Shop, Rutlands bakery, Pound Outlet and Bargainanza Pawnbrokers.
“The most incredible part of this has been watching this build rise from a small car park with a mass of ugly steel, concrete and timber to the beautifully constructed, characterful 1960s 2 storey precinct that we see today.
“This build has been one of the most enjoyable builds that we have undertaken and showcases the many behind the scenes talents that the programme has to offer. I am incredibly proud of the detail, the quality of the build and for what it offers for future storytelling for the show. I am also so very proud of how it was brought to life by our in-house talented Design Team.”
Featured image: The Manc Grop
Man uncovers long lost photos in charity shop depicting historic suffragette march
Whilst digging away in a charity shop, a man has uncovered a set of old Victorian era glass slides depicting what appears to be Women’s Sunday – a suffragette march held in London, organised by Moss Side’s own Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
Amongst a heap of slides that appear to be taken sometime around the early 1900s, one depicts a large group featuring women in the signature stripy hats worn by the protest group.
What’s more their new owner, Ray Newman, has even suggested that one of the photos may depict Emmeline Pankhurst herself.
Writing on Twitter, he shared a thread of the images with his followers: adding short commentary to each one.
One the photo in question, he comments: “If you zoom in on the woman in dark clothing seen looking towards the camera from between two PCs she looks like Emmeline Pankhurst, or am I fooling myself?”
Others have chimed in with suggestions as to the date of the photograph, with one writing: “The boater straw hats plus mutton sleeves equals c.1910.”
Given that the Women’s Sunday protest was held just two years prior to this in 1908, it does seem possible that this incredibly old photograph has captured one of the biggest moments in the suffragette’s history.
The event, organised by Pankhurst’s WSPU, featured the organisation’s colours (purple, white and green) for the first time in public. In days leading up to the event, over 10,000 scarves in the colours were sold at two shillings and elevenpence each, whilst men donned ties in solidarity.
Held to persuade the then Liberal government to support votes for women, the march is thought to have been the largest demonstration to be held until then in the country – drawing around 30,000 women marched to Hyde Park in seven processions.
Of course, the photos not being dated or marked in any way, it is hard to know if these really are images of Emmeline Pankhurst and the historic march but there are quite a few people online speculating that it could well be.
Several have pointed to the seemingly large police presence (and one person claims to have counted eleven officers), suggesting that that could indeed point to it being a photograph of a large suffragette protest.
Elsewhere amongst the collection of photos, images show a stately home, school or institution with flamingos outside, what appears to be a boy scout troop or group of cadets armed with rifles, boaters on the water at Alexandra Park, and a number of people posing in period dress.
Writing above a picture that depicts an old British high street, Ray comments on how the glass slides are tricky to scan adding that he had to “do it with my phone against a bright white screen.”
He continues: “This is a high street… somewhere… c.1910, I’d guess. I can see a sign for an inn with an ‘excellent motor garage’ but can’t work out any more than that.”
Above another, he said: “A stately home, school or institution. There are statues of flamingos on the left. Definitely haunted. (House and slide.)”
Offering a fascinating look into a lost world, some of the images are over 100 years old and taken when photography was something of a new art form. Unlike today, when everyone has a camera in their pocket, to own a camera was something of a rarity – making these images even more intriguing.
If you would like to see the full thread of pictures uncovered by Ray, you can do so by clicking here.