Ireland to ban 'conversion therapy' by 2024

In addition to promising to ban so-called 'conversion therapy', Minister Roderic O'Gorman also presented plans to tackle socio-economic discrimination.

A man carrying a pride flag and a man holding an Ireland flag where conversion therapy is set to be banned.
Image: Via Twitter: @openly

Minister Roderic O’Gorman has vowed to bring forward legislation to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in Ireland this year. The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth also promised the implementation of plans to outlaw socio-economic discrimination, including prejudice against someone’s accent or address.

This follows news from September of last year, when Senator Mary Seery Kearney spoke in front of the Seanad and Minister O’Gorman, urging the government to move forward with legislation to ban conversion therapy in the Republic of Ireland.

In an interview with the Irish Mirror, Mr O’Gorman said that Ireland should follow suit with other European countries banning the practice. He said that “a process that seeks for somebody to change their sexual orientation or gender identity is extremely exploitative, particularly if undertaken on someone under 18…I’d hope to bring the legislation into the Dail next year.”

He added: “Obviously, legislation takes time, but I think it’s possible we could have it passed by the end of the year. That’s certainly what I’d be working towards, but it could drift into 2024.” The Minister has previously spoken about the harm conversion therapy can do to the LGBTQ+ community, branding it “a cruel process rooted in the promotion of shame”.

Mr O’Gorman continued: “I have met people who have been subjected to conversion therapy. It doesn’t happen a lot in Ireland, but when it does happen, its impact can be really devastating on people. Particularly on young people who are just coming out and exploring or understanding their own sexual identity.

“From the point of view of having some understanding of the damage that it can do to people, it is something I feel strongly about and something I really want to progress as Equality Minister.”

This year, the Green Party TD is also prioritising reform within equality legislation. Particular focus will be applied to preventing discrimination surrounding where people live and how they speak. “One of the things we’re looking at is creating a new ground for equality cases on socio-economic discrimination, recognising that people are often discriminated against on the grounds of their address or their accents.

“That’s maybe a more pernicious type of discrimination, but one that very much exists. We’re looking to bring forward mechanisms that [mean] just as no one should be discriminated against on grounds of their race or sexual orientation, they shouldn’t be discriminated against on socio-economic grounds either.”

Though now a timeline for implementing the ban on conversion therapy has been promised, the Minister has been advocating this issue for some time. In September of last year, Mr O’Gorman acknowledged: “I know that people would have liked to see this legislation move more quickly. I do not want anyone to be in any doubt about the fact that this legislation is a priority for me and this Government. We will legislate and pass legislation to ban conversion therapy in this country.”

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