Ending Conversion Practices Expert Advisory Group minutes: June 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 16 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Blair Anderson, Lived Experience
  • Dr Paul Behrens, University of Edinburgh
  • Pritpal Bhullar, Sarbat LGBT+ Sikhs
  • Nick Bland, Equality and Inclusion Division, Scottish Government (chair)
  • Very Reverend Dr Susan Brown, Church of Scotland
  • Dr Rebecca Crowther, Equality Network
  • Richy Edwards, Lived Experience
  • Colin Macfarlane, Stonewall Scotland
  • Dr Igi Moon, The Coalition for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Against Conversion Therapy
  • Florence Oulds, Scottish Trans
  • Reverend Elder Maxwell Reay, Metropolitan church, Augustine’s Edinburgh
  • Dr Mhairi Crawford, LGBT Youth Scotland
  • Luis Felipe Yanes, Scottish Human Rights Commission

Scottish Government:

  • Tara Lyle, Scottish Government
  • Rudi Paton, Scottish Government Legal Department


  • Catrina Steenberg, Scottish Government
  • Shumirai Mhonda-Kapora, Scottish Government


  • Hannah Winter, Lived Experience
  • Dr Amber Keenan, NHS Grampian

Items and actions

Welcome and general updates

Members asked to have a counsellor available for a short period after the meeting and during days after the meeting, which the secretariat would ensure was in palce for future meetings

Chair and members acknowledged the recent vote by the Church of Scotland General Assembly supporting a ban on conversion practices. 

Key discussion points

The Group discussed:

Human Rights Treaties that have been ratified by the United Kingdom and the UK was legally bound by.

The Human Rights Act which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) making the rights contained in the ECHR judiciable in UK domestic courts.

The difference between Civil and Political Rights, and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The lack of a specific mention of LGBTI+ rights in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the ECHR.

The Yogyakarta Principles which were a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The negative and positive obligations which human rights placed on States and other duty bearers.

The duties on States and other duty bearers to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights.

Human rights which might be breached by conversion practices which included:

Right to respect for private and family life which included the right to personal autonomy, sexual orientation and gender identity (Article 8 ECHR);

Right to health (Article 12(1) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and Article 8 ECHR);

Freedom from torture, inhuman/degrading treatment (Article 3 ECHR);

Freedom from discrimination (Article 14 ECHR);

Right of the Child to protection from physical and mental injury, abuse and neglect (Article 19(1) United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC));

Right of children to preserve their identity (Article 8(1) UNCRC);

Right of the child to freedom from torture (Article 37(a) UNCRC); and

Right to life (Article 2 ECHR)  

Balancing a ban on conversion practices with rights to freedom and expression (Article 10 ECHR and Article 19 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and freedom of religion (Article 18 ICCPR and Article 9 ECHR).

When limitations can be placed on human rights including for public safety, protection of ‘order’, protection of health or morals, protection of rights or others rights, freedoms, and/or reputation.

Conditions for limitations of rights:

Existence of a law; Existence of a recognised competing interest; and Necessary in a democratic society.

The role of Courts in assessing if competing rights have been properly balanced.

Presentations by Luis Felipe Yanes (Scottish Human Rights Commission) and Dr Paul Behrens (University of Edinburgh) were given on these topics.

The Group also discussed Draft Recommendations on 'Human Rights and Conversion Practices', and agreed that they would draw conclusions as well as recommendations for the final report.

Next meeting focus

Some of the members to take the lead on preparing for and facilitating the next meeting.

To consider areas that still need to be discussed.


Secretariat to send the excel spreadsheet to record external engagement.

Secretariat to send out google poll for additional meeting date.

Secretariat to look at the possibility of extending the final meeting and also having the final meeting as a hybrid meeting.

Members to send to secretariat any thoughts they have regarding focus of upcoming meetings and secretariat to update the forward planner to reflect any changes.  

Members to send secretariat any views regarding the working document.

Equality and Inclusion Division, June 2022

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