Ministers agree to move forward with a ban on 'conversion therapy' in Northern Ireland

Communities Minister Carál Ni Chuilín has agreed to take the policy lead on a legislative ban on 'conversion therapy' in Northern Ireland.

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Ministers have agreed to move forward with a ban on ‘conversion therapy’ in Northern Ireland along with a review of the Sexual Orientation Strategy. 

On Tuesday, September 8, ministers in Northern Ireland discussed moving forward with a legislative ban on ‘conversion therapy’. Communities Minister Carál Ni Chuilín agreed to take the policy lead on the issue at a meeting with Health Minister Robin Swann and Justice Minister Naomi Long.

Following the discussion, Justic Minister Long wrote on Twitter, “Delighted that a way forward on banning conversion therapy was agreed following the meeting I requested with colleagues. Given Carál Ni Chuilín is reviewing the Sexual Orientation Strategy, this is the best vehicle to take this forward and she has my full support in doing so.”

The Department of Health recently stated they were not in a position to move forward with a legislative ban on ‘conversion therapy’ due to the ongoing pandemic. However, the meeting promises much needed action towards ending this harmful practice. 

In response to the announcement, head of nations and regions at Amnesty UK Patrick Corrigan wrote, “Well done to all the Ministers involved in this initiative to ban conversion therapy. You have our support in ending this harmful practice that tells people they are ‘sick’ and in need of ‘healing’ because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The campaign Ban Conversion Therapy stated, “We are thrilled to see Carál Ni Chuilín Minister for Communities NI agree to take on the role of Policy Lead to finally bring about a ban on so called conversion therapy in Northern Ireland.  We eagerly await next steps and to see exactly what a legislative ban would look like.”

‘Conversion therapy’ refers to a range of practices aimed at changing a person’s sexuality or gender identity, which has been reported to cause long term harmCo-founder of Ban Conversion Therapy Matthew Hyndman said, “The people who I have spoken to about it, they have had [medical] therapy as a result afterwards but they were subjected to some of the most horrific things that you can imagine.”

There are currently no legislative bans on the practice or advertisement of ‘conversion therapy’ in Ireland despite a proposed bill passing into the second stage of the Seanad in 2018. 

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