Ending conversion practices in Scotland: consultation

Consultation containing detailed proposals for legislation to end conversion practices in Scotland.

Part 6: Overview of Proposals

Proposed package of criminal and civil measures and how they work together to prevent and respond to conversion practices in Scotland.

Graphic text below:


New Criminal Offences

Engaging in conversion practice

Provision of a service

Engaging in a coercive course of behaviour

Statutory Aggravation

Aggravation involving conversion practice

Taking person out of Scotland for conversion practice


Civil Protection Orders

Protect an individual at risk

Protect wider community

Civil Order breach

A package of measures

63. Research and evidence has identified a requirement for a multi-faceted approach to addressing conversion practices in Scotland. Our proposal is to create a package of measures that work together to prevent and respond to conversion practices in Scotland. Depending on the type of conduct that has taken place and/or the specific situation of the victim, there would be three different routes that could be taken to address the issue and protect the victim. This may be through specific criminal offences, a new statutory aggravation, or a civil protection order. A similar package of criminal and civil law measures has been used to address forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and domestic abuse.

64. An overview of each of these measures is provided in more detail below.

New criminal offences relating to conversion practices

65. Our analysis of the existing criminal law shows that there are gaps within the law so that harmful conversion practices are not fully addressed. Proposed new criminal offences will address the most serious and harmful forms of conversion practices. These are aimed at two specific forms of conduct: the provision of a service, and a coercive course of behaviour, which will be criminalised when certain thresholds are met. These thresholds are explained in more detail in subsequent sections.

66. Criminal measures send a strong message that conversion practices are harmful to individuals and society. They will punish those who commit harmful conversion practices that are sufficiently serious, providing redress for victims.

67. Criminalisation has been a key mechanism used by a number of countries to ban conversion practices.

A new statutory aggravation relating to conversion practices

68. The statutory aggravation will address conversion practices that fall within existing criminal offences. If a person does something that would already be a criminal offence – for example assault, including sexual assault, or threatening or abusive behaviour – this would be considered more serious if it was committed with the intent that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity would be changed or suppressed. This would be specified in the charge, recorded on conviction, and would be taken into account on sentencing.

A new civil protection order relating to conversion practices

69. Civil protection orders provide a preventative and protective approach. They will provide an avenue to protect identified individuals at risk from specific behaviour, or to protect the community.

70. Civil orders are a mechanism that have been used in relation to other practices that cause harm to individuals, such as domestic abuse, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM). They offer a preventative and non-criminal route to protect a person at risk of harm. They will also be available to the police and local authorities to address situations where conversion practices have already been carried out and an order is required to protect the wider community from this harm. While this is a non-criminal mechanism, the breach of a civil order will be a criminal offence.

New Criminal Offence

This would criminalise harmful conversion practices committed against an individual when certain thresholds are met.

It will focus on two types of conduct: the provision of a service, and a coercive course of behaviour.

There will be an offence relating to taking a person out of Scotland for conversion practices.

Those found guilty will face a fine or imprisonment.

Statutory Aggravation

Where the act(s) undertaken as part of a conversion practice are already criminal offences, for example, assault, there would be a new statutory aggravation where the crime was motivated by change or suppression of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Courts will be required to take this motivation into account during sentencing.

Civil Protection Order

A civil protection order is a preventative and protective tool.

The civil courts would be able to make an order to protect either a specific victim or the wider community from the harm of conversion practices.

Breach of the civil order would be a criminal offence.

5. Do you support or not support an approach which uses a package of both criminal and civil measures to address conversion practices in legislation?


Do not support

Don’t know

6. Please give reasons for your answer to Question 5.


Email: EndingConversionPractices@gov.scot

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