Scotland’s plan to ban barbaric conversion therapy is already upsetting Christian bigots

Ban Conversion Therapy Picket Of Cabinet Office London

Religious activists are preparing to challenge Scotland’s proposed ban on conversion therapy.

The Scottish Government has been warned that the Christian Institute, a religious group known for campaigning against gay rights, was building a legal case to strike down the ban.

The latest conversion therapy research done in Scotland, inspired by Australian legislation, outlined that a ban must cover any treatment, practice or effort that aims to change, suppress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, expression of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

It also included a section focusing on the experiences of LGBTQ+ people of colour and survivors from minority ethnic faith groups.

But Simon Calvert, deputy director at the Christian Institute, claimed that the ban would end up criminalising “mainstream pastoral work of churches, mosques and synagogues and temples.

“If the Scottish Government follows the advice of its expert advisory group it will be exceeding its powers and inflicting the most totalitarian conversion therapy ban in the world.”

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Ministers were warned the Christian Institute had received legal advice concerning ways to strike down the legislation from Aidan O’Neill, a constitutional lawyer, who described the law as “fundamentally illiberal in intent”.

A catholic priest used the sacrament as part of the conversion therapy. (Credit: Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

The legal grounds for the challenge would rest on the idea that a ban on all conversion therapy would “infringe upon the human rights of individuals, in particular the victim’s freedom from discrimination and freedom from non-consensual medical treatment”.

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The therapy ban proposals were brought forward during the Scottish Government’s LGBT protection program, which set out to “protect LGBT people from harm by banning the damaging promotion and practice of conversion therapy, bringing forward legislation that is as comprehensive as possible within devolved powers by the end of 2023, if UK Government proposals do not go far enough”.

The Scottish Government aims to bring the legislation forward in a bill by the end of this year, including a consultation period.

A spokesperson for the government said: “Conversion practices that try to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are harmful, discriminatory, and have no place in our society.

“We’re committed to introducing legislation that will end these harmful practices as far as possible within devolved competence just as many jurisdictions across the world have already done, and UK Government intend to partially do.

“This will be done fully recognising and respecting the legal right to freedom of religion, expression and a private and family life, which are protected under existing laws”.

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