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by Staff reporter
09 January 2024
Scottish Government publishes proposals to ban LGBT conversion therapy

Pride in Glasgow | Alamy

Scottish Government publishes proposals to ban LGBT conversion therapy

The Scottish Government has published its proposals for banning practices to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Known as conversion therapy, practices can range from talking therapies to more extreme interventions such as physical abuse and starvation.

A report published by the UK Government in 2018 found two per cent of LGBT people had undergone conversion therapy to alter their identity, while a further five per cent had been offered it.

The Scottish Government has now opened a consultation on the ban, which will attempt to ban: therapy or counselling which seeks to change or suppress same-sex attraction; the prescribing of medication to suppress sex drives; repeatedly or continuously controlling a person’s activities; and repeatedly or continuously threatening or humiliating someone.

Equalities minister Emma Roddick said: “Conversion practices, which aim to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, are damaging and destructive acts that violate people’s human rights. Sadly, these practices still happen today and they have absolutely no place in Scotland.

“In taking forward our commitment to ban conversion practices we are leading the way in the UK and joining the growing list of countries acting to address this harm.”

The UK Government has seemingly stepped back from its plans to introduce similar legislation after a bill was not included in the King’s Speech in November.

The UK’s equality watchdog had urged the government to outlaw the practice.

In an October letter, the Equality and Human Rights Commission said conversion therapy was “harmful” and any ban must be “carefully considered to ensure it uses clear terminology and definitions and is proportionate and evidence-based”.

The SNP pledged to introduce a ban in its 2021 manifesto “if the UK Government does not take action”, but it is also believed to be one of the red lines for the party’s deal with the Greens.

Concerns have been expressed that legislation which is too restrictive may limit what support services can be offered to those questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, such as that which allows people to explore their identity before making a decision.

Some religious groups have also said it could inhibit religious freedom.

But Roddick insisted the measures would ensure such freedoms were protected while ending conversion practices.

The consultation document states the legislation would not apply to non-directive or non-coercive discussions or general parental direction and guidance. Such actions would not constitute conversion practices as long as they do not “direct them to a particular pre-determined sexual orientation or gender identity that is considered ‘preferable’.”

Green equalities spokesperson Maggie Chapman said: “This is an important day for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people in Scotland. Conversion practices are not therapy. They are abusive and coercive. They are a form of violence that has no place in a modern or progressive Scotland, or anywhere, for that matter.”

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