Statement from Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of Council, Professor Mike Holmes, Chair of Trustees, and Mark Thomas, Acting Chief Executive Officer re: CAN-SG conference

We have today reached the decision that the Clinical Advisory Network on Sex and Gender (CAN-SG) conference can go ahead as booked at 30 Euston Square.

This is an extremely complex situation that the RCGP has been inadvertently drawn into, and we have spent the past few days in intense and wide-ranging discussions. We understand the concerns and strength of feeling that this event has provoked, particularly among our LGBTQ+ community of GPs and patients. The legal considerations are such that the College would be at risk of being faced with a claim for breaching the Equality Act if we acted otherwise.

30ES is the headquarters of the RCGP, but also an event space run by an independent events company. As an academic organisation, the RCGP is committed to the principles of free speech, academic freedom, and evidence-based debate, but we have had no involvement with the organisation of this conference and have not endorsed its content.  As soon as we became aware that marketing and publicity material might give a different impression, we asked the organisers to remove all references to the RCGP’s name and they did so very quickly.

However, we understand that any association with the event, even inadvertently, has called the College’s commitment to inclusion and to the care of our LGBTQ+ members and patients into question. We wish to reiterate that we take our responsibility of supporting our diverse community of LGBTQ+ members and patients, as well as our members providing gender identity services to patients, very seriously. The College has a clear policy around transgender care and has developed e-learning materials for our members.

The RCGP is one of 20 health organisations that have signed a memorandum of understanding opposing conversion therapy, so we were very vocal opponents of the Government’s proposal to ban the practice for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in England and Wales but not for trans people. When the document was updated to include gender identity, we worked with other signatories to ensure the memorandum was clear that being opposed to conversion therapy did not mean opposing appropriate clinical and psychological interventions for trans and gender-questioning people and that it is entirely possible to deliver a ban on conversion therapy that protects all LGBTQ+ people.

The RCGP is a network of 55,000 committed GPs, dedicated to raising standards of care for patients. Our aim is to be an inclusive organisation where diversity is respected and encouraged and where no form of discrimination, intimidation, bullying or harassment takes place.

We will continue to work with and support all our members to this aim.

Further information

*Please note – Mark Thomas is standing in for CEO Chris Askew who is on planned annual leave 

RCGP press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.