Conversion practices, which aim to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, are damaging and destructive acts that violate the human rights of those who undergo them. Sadly, these practices happen today, and they have absolutely no place in Scotland. We are committed to bringing an end to conversion practices, and to protect LGBTQI+ people from the trauma and harm they can cause.
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, and the Australian state of Victoria. Scotland is proud to make its contribution to this growing international momentum.
Scots law already addresses a range of harmful behaviour often associated with conversion practices, including situations involving physical violence or threatening conduct. There is, however, a significant gap in our law – which can allow forms of conversion practices to fall through the cracks. Our approach, set out in this consultation, aims to bridge this gap while ensuring that fundamental rights already enjoyed by people in Scotland, such as freedom of religion and the right to family and private life, are upheld. Our focus is on protecting people from harm.
From our knowledge of conversion practices through expert advice, data gathering, and analysis, it is clear that limiting legislative action to sexual orientation does not go far enough. Conversion practices relating to gender identity are equally damaging. We have committed to encompassing both sexual orientation and gender identity in our proposals, to limit the negative effects of conversion practices as far as possible.
Your responses to this consultation are of great interest, as I am keen to understand the range of views and consider what steps we in Scotland must take. The practices addressed in these proposals are not only harmful, but a violation of the human rights and dignity of the people of Scotland.
I am committed to join world leaders in developing progressive legislation that promotes equality and protects people from harm.
Minister for Equalities,
Migration and Refugees
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