Irish government lists conversion therapy ban as priority bill for publication this Spring

The bill was first introduced to the Cabinet in June 2023, and the proposals are still being discussed.

This article is about the Irish conversion therapy bill. The image shows a hand holding a cardboard sign that reads
Image: Karollyne Videira Hubert via Unsplash

Content warning: Discussion of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ and its consequences

On January 16, the Irish government published its Legislation Programme for Spring 2024, listing the bill to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ as a priority for publication.

The drafting of the legislation is the first step towards the Bill being enacted, thus criminalising conversion therapy practices in Ireland. Once the proposal is published, it will undergo different stages of deliberation and then be submitted to a vote in both houses of the Oireachtas.

As of today, the Bill’s proposals are still being discussed. In response to a Parliamentary question from Labour leader Ivana Bacik on January 17, Minister Roderic O’Gorman stated: “Intensive work on drafting the General Scheme is ongoing and officials continue to engage with the Office of the Attorney General on the matter. It is planned that legislative proposals will be brought forward shortly.”

The National LGBT Federation (NXF) welcomed the news on social media and also called for the Hate Crime Bill to be enacted this term.


The Bill to ban conversion therapy was first introduced to the Irish Cabinet by Roderic O’Gorman in June 2023. It aims at banning practices seeking to change or suppress an individual’s sexuality or gender identity expression. The practice is said to deepen internalised homophobia and transphobia, particularly by associating heterosexuality and normativity with “success”, and can be conducted through psychotherapy, medical or faith-based approaches.

As established by research led by Trinity College Dublin and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, conversion therapy indeed exists in Ireland and is harmful and damaging to LGBTQ+ individuals. The report also underlines the need for precise policies and accurate legislation to avoid any legal loopholes, to properly protect queer individuals.

Minister O’Gorman echoed that concern on January 18: “Given the complex and sensitive nature of the proposed legislation, my Department is carefully considering the key policy principles that will underpin the legislation to ensure that individuals are protected from these harmful conversion practices while the necessary and appropriate services for those with concerns in areas of sexual orientation and gender identity are not affected.”

Studies on the subject were already driven by the United Nations and the European Union in 2020 and 2022, respectively. Their conclusions were similar to the ones made by Trinity. The heavy consequences for individuals being confronted with conversion practices have been reported to result in self-hatred, shame and guilt, going as far as post-traumatic stress and suicidal thoughts.

In Ireland’s case, the Trinity study shows that those practices were mainly led in strong religious contexts, involving certified practitioners. Thus, the report advocates for legislative actions based on professional contexts, such as licensed psychiatrists or faith-based therapists. Since LGBTQ+ youth is under the Mental Health Act (2001), individuals under 18 don’t have a right to reject therapy if their parents consent to it. Therefore, activists stress that the soon-to-be proposed bill needs to take those contexts into account.

Such an initiative is essential to ensure Irish queers’ safety, especially for LGBTQ+ youth. As legislative work takes time, the Bill is still under conception and the proposals will hopefully be soon published and updated. The latter represents a big step for Ireland, as other European countries, such as Malta, Germany, France, and Greece, already have national bans on the damaging practice.

© 2024 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.