Scottish Tories split from UK Government and back trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban

A conversion therapy ban in Scotland should include transgender people, the Scottish Conservatives have said in a marked split from their UK Government counterparts.

Douglas Ross’ party has said it will back a “trans inclusive” ban on conversion practices should legislation proposing such come to Holyrood.

The SNP/Green coalition has committed to a ban on conversion therapy by the end of 2023 after MSPs overwhelmingly backed the move following a petition to the Scottish Parliament.

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The majority of LGBT groups argue a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy would stop the pseudoscientific practice of attempting to change someone's sexuality or gender identity using psychological, physical, or spiritual interventions.

The comments come after the UK Government performed a double u-turn on the issue.

However gender critical campaigners say a ban on conversion therapy which extends to trans people could see legitimate therapy for those potentially suffering from gender dysphoria criminalised amid warnings a “gender affirmative” approach could harm children.

Downing Street plans for a conversion therapy ban were thrown into confusion amid an embarrassing double u-turn by Boris Johnson last week.

This saw plans for a ban ditched, only to be resurrected following a backlash from LGBT charities and MPs, but excluding trans conversion therapy which had been banned in the original proposals.

However, in a split from their UK colleagues, the Scottish Conservatives have said they will back a trans-inclusive ban.

Asked what their position on the issue was following the UK Government’s U-turn, the party’s gender reform spokesperson, Meghan Gallacher said the Tories would stick to their manifesto promise.

She said: “As our manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament election made clear, we are in favour of a ban on the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy.

"We continue to support a ban on conversion therapy, including trans conversion therapy, and we will vote for that ban if the legislation comes through the Scottish Parliament."

On Monday, more than 100 LGBT groups pulled out of the UK Government’s international LGBT+ conference, Safe to Be Me, in protest.

The government’s LGBT business adviser, Iain Anderson, resigned from his position on Tuesday in a scathing letter to the Prime Minister urging “tolerance and respect” and labelling conversion therapy “abhorrent”.

In his resignation letter he added the trans exclusion from the ban was “deeply damaging” to his role and said “politics which creates dividing lines between LGB and Trans people will never be my approach”, adding trust and belief in the government's commitment to LGBT rights was “damaged” by the u-turns.

The resignation came after the first transgender MP said he was “bitterly disappointed” that people who identify as a different gender to the one they are born into will be excluded from plans to ban conversion therapy.

Jamie Wallis, Conservative MP for Bridgend, came out as trans last week in a highly personal statement.

Taking to Twitter on Monday, the 37-year-old rallied against UK ministers’ plans to limit a ban on conversion therapy to gay people.

He said it was “wrong to exclude protections for a whole group of people from a practice described as ‘abhorrent’”.

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