Ireland moves a step closer to long-awaited conversion therapy ban

Roderic O’Gorman

Ireland’s children’s minister, Roderic O’Gorman, has announced that research on legislating for a conversion therapy ban will begin in 2022.

Social Democrat Gary Gannon asked O’Gorman a parliamentary question on plans to ban conversion therapy in Ireland this week, according to the Irish Examiner.

In response, O’Gorman, who is gay, said that the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth had “developed a scoping paper on research into conversion therapy in February 2021”, adding: “This paper comprised a literature overview and a high-level examination of the banning of conversion therapy internationally, along with any evidence in Ireland of conversion therapy practices.”

O’Gorman continued: “The programme for government contains a commitment to legislate to end the practice of conversion therapy, an objective I strongly support… I am pleased to say that my department is now commissioning research to capture the views and experiences of people who have been subjected to the practice of conversion therapy in Ireland.

“A request for quotation [was] issued on 16 November 2021 and it is expected that the research will be commissioned and begin early in 2022.”

The research, he added, “will assist the government in developing legislation to ban the practice of conversion therapy”.

O’Gorman has been outspoken about his support for a conversion therapy ban.

Earlier this year, he said: “[The government] must be proactive in banning practices that not only propagandise harmful and discriminatory messages, but ones that also have serious negative consequences on a young person’s mental health, with the potential to inflict long-lasting damage.

“Legislating for a ban on conversion therapy will send a clear and unambiguous message to everyone, both younger and older, that a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is not up for debate.”

A attempt to ban conversion therapy in Ireland previously took place in 2018, when a bill was introduced to the Seanad Éireann, the Irish senate, which would have punished those performing conversion practices with fines of up to €10,000 and up to a year in prison.

Although the bill passed its second reading in the Seanad Éireann, it lapsed with the dissolution of the Oireachtas last year.