Irish politicians push for ban on gay ‘cure’ therapy

An Irish Senator has submitted a bill to legally ban gay ‘cure’ therapy.

Senator Fintan Warfield, who is spokesperson on LGBTQI rights for Irish republican party Sinn Féin,

today introduced the Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018, legislation that would attempts to perform gay ‘cure’ therapies illegal in Ireland.

The bill would target “any practice or treatment that aims to change, repress and, or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression”.

21 Senators have backed the cross-party bill, which comes shortly after the European Parliament urged member countries to ban the harmful practice.

Senator Fintan Warfield

Senator Warfield said: “Today, I am introducing a piece of legislation which aims to prohibit conversion therapy, as a deceptive and harmful act or practice against a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression.

“Additionally, it will make removing a person from the state for the purposes of conversion therapy an offence.

“The practice of conversion therapy has been condemned and discredited worldwide by institutions such as the UN Committee Against Torture, the European Parliament and by the Irish Council for Psychotherapy.”

The out Senator added “We have been aware that conversion therapy has been ongoing within the state for some time. Investigative journalism [has helped] shed light on this harmful and deceptive practice.”

The Senator called on Ireland’s (head of government) Leo Varadkar, who is one of the few openly gay world leaders in office, to publicly back the bill ahead of a White House meeting for St Patrick’s Day this weekend.

He said: “I note that [Varadkar] will be meeting US Vice President Mike Pence this week and has expressed his intention to raise LGBT rights issues.

“Given that [US] Vice President Mike Pence has previously called for resources to be directed toward institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour, An Taoiseach should assert that his Government on behalf of the Irish people are opposed to such ideologies and that we value all of our people’s contribution to the diversity of this island.”

He added: “I am hopeful that the cross-party support we have received for this Bill will ensure its passage through the Oireachtas.

“To date, twenty one Senators have co-signed the bill; from Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party, Green Party and Independents.

“I would also like to thank the National LGBT Federation – NXF, for their encouragement and support for this legislation.”

Experts overwhelmingly agree that attempts to cure sexuality are futile, misguided, and often extremely harmful. Attempts to force teens to repress their sexuality has been linked to depression, self-harm and even suicide.

Performing gay cure therapy on minors is already is illegal in nine US states and counting, as well as Switzerland, Malta, Taiwan, two Canadian provinces, and the Australian state of Victoria.

Further bills are in progress in Washington state and Hawaii, while the UK government has said it is considering a ban.

The European Parliament earlier this month voted to condemn gay ‘cure’ therapy and urged member countries to ban the harmful practice.

The EU body voted by 435 to 109 to adopt text calling on member states to outlaw the discredited practice.

It says: “[The European Parliament] welcomes initiatives prohibiting LGBTI conversion therapies and banning the pathologisation of trans identities and urges all Member States to adopt similar measures that respect and uphold the right to gender identity and gender expression”.

It is the first time the Parliament has made the specific disavowal of conversion therapies.

The vote came on an amendment to the Parliament’s annual report on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU, which was later adopted.

The Intergroup’s Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP noted that only a small number of EU member countries “have explicitly banned LGBTI conversion therapies” to date.

The MEP continued: “The UN Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Human Rights Committee have already condemned the practice of conversion therapy in several countries.”