The launch of this legislation today aims to prohibit conversion therapy, as a deceptive and harmful act or practice against a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression.
Senator Fintan Warfield who is the Sinn Féin spokesperson for Youth, Arts and LGBT+ rights has been working on legislation since last summer with the help of the National LGBT Federation (NXF). The bill will be submitted to the Bills Office in Leinster House next week.
NXF Board Member Adam Long commented: “The National LGBT Federation is very pleased to be working with Senator Warfield to ensure that harmful and abusive so-called gay ‘conversion therapy’ is prohibited in Ireland. A ban is all the more pressing in light of comments by Mary McAleese recently, which highlighted the prevalence of this practice in Ireland, and also the very firm resolution passed by the European Parliament last week calling on all member states to implement a ban. We therefore call on all parties and members of the Oireachtas to support Senator Warfield’s legislation.”
Under the proposed legislation, a person found guilty of performing, offering or advertising conversion therapy will be liable to a fine of up to €5,000 and/or six months imprisonment.
It also proposes legislation that would make it unlawful to remove a person from the state for the purposes of conversion therapy.
Mr Warfield commented that this is to curtail the participation of those living in Ireland in ‘conversion camps’ on a European scale:
“It’s going on probably on a wider scale in Europe and for that reason, we’ve prohibited the removal of any person from the state for conversion therapy.”
Although there is an element of timeliness to the launch, with McAleese’s comments earlier this week and a “gay cure” film screening in Northern Ireland, conversion therapy has been an issue in Ireland for a long time and is more prevalent than communities might think.
Senator Warfield gave testament to this: “I have been working on it for nine months unaware that a Pentecostal church in my own community was celebrating and championing the possibilities of conversion and it did a so-called conversion of a Brazilian man.”
South Down MLA Emma Rogan joined Sinn Féin activists and members of the LGBT community in Ballynahinch tonight to protest at at so called “gay cure” meeting. pic.twitter.com/lERj8mqN17
— Sinn Féin LGBT (@sinnfeinlgbt) March 13, 2018
In 2010, we investigated a gay conversion therapy group in Dublin, an organisation that is still registered as a practising business today. Last December, Hot Press shed light on another instance of the practice.
Former President Mary McAleese revealed that an international Catholic group run by Courage was operating a chapel in Dublin where priests sought to help “persons who experience SSA [same-sex attraction] to grow into their true identities”.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to meet with US Vice President Mike Pence later this week. Warfield stated that Pence is “probably the most powerful advocate for conversion therapy in our world” and that during the meeting Varadkar “should assert that his Govt. on behalf of the Irish people are opposed to such harmful ideologies.”
Read the proposed legislation here.
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