Consultation launched on potential ban on conversion therapies

MSPs have launched a consultation on whether conversion therapies which are used to try and change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity should be criminalised.

MSPs are to consider a ban on conversion therapy
MSPs are to consider a ban on conversion therapy

A petition calling for an end to the practice of so-called “gay cures” has attracted more than 5,500 signatures, and now Holyrood’s equalities committee is looking for a wider public view on whether the Scottish Government should ban the practice.

The committee is asking people for their views on making the therapies a crime, what steps they believe the Scottish Government should take, and who the committee should hear from when they consider the issue.

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The UK Government announced in May that it would bring forward measures “to ban conversion therapy” and has also launched a consultation, which includes consideration of religious freedoms and how to protect accredited professionals.

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However campaigners were disappointed the government did not announce an immediate and wide-ranging ban on the practice, with LGBT charity Stonewall saying the practice must be banned in all forms "including religious and faith-based settings", and that any delay leaves LGBT groups "at further risk of abuse".

There have been concerns raised however that a ban could prevent psychiatrists and psychologists from being able to help those with gender dysphoria access talking therapies.

According to a 2018 LGBT government survey, around five per cent of the 108,000 people who responded said they had been offered some form of conversion therapy, while two per cent had undergone it. More than half said it was conducted by a faith group, while one in five received it from healthcare professionals.

The SNP said in its most recent manifesto that if the UK government failed to ban conversion therapies it would legislate “as far as it is possible within the powers of the Scottish Parliament”.

Announcing the consultation, committee convener Joe FitzPatrick said: “Conversion therapy is a practice which has deeply impacted upon members of the LGBT+ community in Scotland.

“This petition is calling for conversion therapy to be made a criminal offence. We are therefore seeking views on whether this would be the right way forward and whether the Scottish Government should take steps to end the practice, within the powers available to it.”

The call for views closes on 13th August.

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