Church of Scotland General Assembly 2022: Kirk calls for ban on conversion therapy

The Church of Scotland's General Assembly has backed calls for a ban on conversion therapy.

And it rejected a bid to distinguish between the controversial practice in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Glasgow minister the Rev Graham Thain argued the definition of conversion therapy set out in a 2017 Memorandum of Understanding, backed by 20 professional organisations and adopted by the Kirk, introduced the subject of gender identity where it was not covered in other definitions. And he said therapists working with people who had gender identity issues felt hindered from exploring their feelings with them because of this. He urged the Assembly to opt instead for the definition used by Counselling and Psychotherapy Scotland (Cosca).

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He was backed by the Rev Alison McBrier from Ayrshire, who said when it came to transgender issues those looking for therapy were often children and young people. “It is vitally important that these children and young people are allowed time and space in which to explore their thoughts and feelings with appropriate therapists.”

But the Rev Alan Kimmitt from Glenrothes asked: “If we have decided that conversion therapy is unhlepful for people who are looking at their sexuality, why do we think it may remain helpful for people who are looking at their gender identity?”

And the Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Faith Impact Forum, echoed the point. She said: "What does this Assembly want to say to people who are struggling with their sexual identity? Do we want to say conversion therapy is to be banned for those who are homosexual but if you’re struggling with your gender identity then just keep going through these harmful processes? Trans men and trans women do not need to be cured or corrected, but treated with dignity and respect."

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The Very Rev Dr Susan Brown speaks at the Assembly