Ministers are considering another climbdown over a controversial law to ban conversion therapy.
After a huge backlash from parents and teachers, they are looking at delaying plans that could criminalise those who want to prevent children from changing gender.
They will press ahead with moves to ban conversion therapy designed to turn gay people straight.
But a ban on conversion therapy for gender identity could be put off until the summer amid fears it would criminalise parents, teachers and doctors who question children who want to change gender.
It comes as a group of gay men warned ministers the new law could put pressure to transition on thousands of children who might otherwise grow up happy and gay.
The Gay Men’s Network said the plans would silence opposition to gender conversion and could destroy thousands of lives because many children would later regret changing gender.
The Government is expected to confirm today that a botched consultation on the proposals that was planned to end tomorrow will now run until February to allow more people to have their say.
The climbdown comes after threats of legal action from Fair Play For Women, whose director Dr Nicola Williams said: ‘The Government has been rushing to get this bill into law before an LGBT conference it’s hosting next year.
‘Rushing legislation means mistakes get made. This law is complex, controversial and could harm children if they get it wrong. It is too important to be rushed.’
Boris Johnson originally agreed to ban the cruel practice of therapists trying to make gay children straight.
But the proposals were extended to stop people trying to persuade children they should consider whether they really want to be the ‘gender they want to be’.
Boris Johnson originally agreed to ban the cruel practice of therapists trying to make gay children straight
A Government source said: ‘One option under active consideration is decoupling orientation therapy and conversion therapy for gender identity.
‘The first is completely uncontroversial… and could be fast tracked. The other could be delayed until the summer after an independent review into gender identity by Dr Hillary Cass reports.’
The Gay Men’s Network wrote a submission to the consultation to urge ministers not to bring in a ban on conversion therapy for gender identity in its name.
The group says the move towards promoting transition in effect erases people who are simply gay by telling them they are in the wrong body.
The Government Equality Hub said: ‘This Government is committed to banning the practice of coercive conversion therapy and we want to hear all views on the best ways to do that.’