IN July 2018, the British Government vowed to outlaw 'conversion therapy' – the practice of attempting to turn gay people straight.

Two years on, and many victims say they have yet to see any measurable progress in that direction.

Among them is Jayne Ozanne.

Ms Ozanne, a high-profile LGBTQ+ activist in Oxford, is at the forefront of the nationwide campaign to ban the pseudo-scientific practice.

A gay evangelical Christian, she came to terms with her sexuality after years of undergoing conversion therapy, celibacy and several nervous breakdowns.

She was in her thirties and ‘absolutely desperate’ when she voluntarily turned to the practice for a ‘cure’.

At the time, she was a prominent member of the Archbishops’ Council, the executive body of the Church of England.

She would visit ministers who would pray for her to be released from her emotions and be 'healed'.

Also read: Government makes U-turn on rail hub – after 'miscommunication' with council

This type of practice, Ms Ozanne explained, puts all the burden on victims, and is part of what she refers to as ‘the dark side of religion’.

She said: “When it does not work, you feel like failure and you are told that you are not being as open as you should be and that you do not have enough faith.

“You are in this horrible situation because deep down you feel like a complete failure because you know it has not worked.”

Equalities minster Liz Truss said in June she would ‘shortly be bringing forward plans’ to end the practice, however, Ms Ozanne was quick to point out that ‘banning it is critical’.

She said: “We need to send a very clear signal that this is not tolerated in the UK and people who practice it will be prosecuted.

“This is vastly practised by religious leaders and they do not want a criminal record.

Also read: Villagers criticise Hollywood film director Tim Burton over fence

“Ending conversion therapy requires working with them over the years to effectively change their minds.”

In 2017, Ms Ozanne successfully lobbied the Church of England’s legislative council to condemn conversion therapy.

She also founded the Ozanne Foundation a year later with the aim to work with religious organisations to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender.

The activist described her personal experience: “My faith taught me that being straight was the God-intended norm for the humanity.

“When I started developing feelings for another woman in my twenties there was not anybody else in the world who I knew that was both a Christian and homosexual.”

Oxford Mail:

While for Ms Ozanne conversion therapy consisted of ‘praying the gay away’, she pointed out that in extreme cases it can even involve ‘curative’ rape or electroshock ‘treatment’.

LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall UK defines conversion therapy as ‘any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity’.

The practice is based on the belief that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness that can be ‘cured’.

A survey on faith and sexuality conducted by the Ozanne Foundation last year examined the role religion has in people’s understanding and acceptance of their sexual orientation in the UK.

It interviewed more than 4,000 people – 450 of which admitted had undergone the practice.

Of those who said they had suffered mental health probems after going through conversion therapy, over two thirds had experienced suicidal thoughts and a third had sadly attempted to kill themselves.

The most common reason given was a belief that their desires were ‘sinful’.

Ms Ozanne commented on the survey: “It is proven conversion therapy is costing people’s lives, it is costing people their mental health.

“Whilst we continue to procrastinate and commission more research, we are causing significant harm to young people in our care in the UK.”

Conversion therapy has been denounced by the NHS and major therapy and counselling associations in the UK including the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Earlier this month Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran spoke out on the two-year anniversary since the Government announced that it would ban conversion therapy.

Also read: Man killed and one injured in fatal late night crash

The Liberal Democrat leadership candidate said: “The Government must urgently protect people by making LGBTQ+ conversion therapy illegal.

“People should not have had to wait two years for action on this vital issue.

“It should be an offence to run conversion therapy and to force anyone to attend it, either in the UK or abroad.”

In June the MP tabled an early day motion to criminalise the practice across the UK.

Ms Moran also promised to continue working against the practice that ‘serves as an ongoing threat to the LGBTQ+ community’.

A petition urging the Government to push forward on the therapy ban was launched earlier this year. The petition gathered over 179,000 signatures and is now awaiting consideration for discussion in Parliament.