Consultation on measures to protect people from harm.
Views are being sought on planned legislation to end conversion practices which seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The consultation presents detailed information on proposals for legislation in Scotland, setting out what the law would cover and how it would work in practice.
The proposed legislation seeks to prevent and respond to harmful acts while protecting existing freedoms including speech, religion and belief.
Situations that could be covered by the proposed legislation, if carried out with the intention to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and which cause that person harm, include:
- therapy or counselling that requires a person to change or suppress on their same sex attraction
- prescribing medication to suppress a person’s sex drive
- repeatedly or continuously controlling a person’s activities and appearance
- 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 consultation responses we receive will help us to further consider those measures we can take to stop the harm of conversion practices and protect those at risk while ensuring that freedoms – including freedoms of speech, religion, and belief – are safeguarded.”
Chief Executive at LGBT Health and Wellbeing Mark Kelvin said:
“Conversion practices are widely discredited and extremely harmful and have no place in any inclusive society. Whilst we’d like to think that they’re a thing of the past, or not happening in Scotland, we know that some LGBTQ+ people in Scotland are still being subjected to these abhorrent practices and we welcome the Scottish Government’s leadership and action on this issue.
“Our freephone helpline is staffed by a trained team who specialise in LGBTQ+ mental health and wellbeing. Callers can expect compassionate and non-judgmental support, resources to help navigate their experiences, and referrals to other support if needed.”
The consultation follows recommendations made by an expert group representing LGBTQI+ people and organisations, faith and belief communities, people with lived experience of conversion practices and experts in law and human rights. It is also aligned with findings of a 2022 report from the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee.
The proposed legislation is aimed at a particular form of harmful behaviour that seeks to change or suppress who a person is, using coercive and repeated behaviour or providing a service that is purported to be able to change them. In order for any act to be considered a conversion practice in the proposed legislation, there must be an intention to change or suppress another individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity and there must be harm caused.
Situations not considered conversion practices by the proposed legislation include:
- providing advice, guidance or support for an individual to explore their thoughts or feelings in a way that does not direct that person towards any particular, pre-determined sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes guidance by a healthcare practitioner, family member or religious leader
- provision of medical or psychological care that is conducted ethically by a healthcare professional
- parental guidance or questioning about a child’s decisions or welfare that is not harmful, coercive and motivated by an intention to change or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity
- general statements of belief or opinion that are not directed at an individual to change or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity
In 2020 the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity called for a global ban on conversion therapy. Across the world a number of national and sub-national governments have already taken steps to eradicate these harmful practices, including in New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Norway and the Australian state of Victoria.
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