Report detailing harrowing experiences of ‘conversion therapy’ prompts calls for ban in Ireland

Testimony from 38 people who were subjected to 'conversion therapy' practices in Ireland demonstrates urgent need for change.

Crowd of people in Dublin with Pride flags representing support for conversion therapy ban in Ireland.
Image: Twitter @stevefanagan

A report on the traumatising nature of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in Ireland demonstrates an urgent need to ban the practice.

The report was conducted by the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin, and it includes a survey of 278 people, 70 of whom were offered some type of ‘conversion therapy’, and 38 who said they experienced a ‘conversion therapy’ practice directly.


The research includes in-depth interviews with seven people who described their experiences as “traumatising”, “destructive”, “anxiety-provoking”, “horrendous”, “harmful” and “damaging”.

One testimony suggests that a 12-year-old child was illegally subjected to electro-shock treatment administered to change his sexual orientation and gender identity. Additional participants attested that the failed practices aimed at “curing” their “sinfulness” created excessive feelings of shame.


Conversion therapy is typically administered by faith-based “therapists” who hold religious faiths that reject LGBTQ+ people and aim to force anyone who is not heterosexual to change their identity. The ineffective practice exacerbates internalised homophobia and uses guilt and shame to inflict harm.

Legislation banning conversion therapy has been an ongoing priority for the Irish Government, and Minister Roderic O’Gorman has vowed to initiate a law banning conversion therapy in Ireland this year. He describes the harm conversion therapy perpetuates as “a cruel process rooted in the promotion of shame”.

The Department of Children and a subgroup of LGBTI+ National Inclusion Strategy Committee is actively reviewing international guidelines for drafting the law.


GCN’s Board, the National LGBT Federation (NXF), is a member of the Steering Group to ban conversion practices in Ireland. In response to the new report, the NXF’s Adam Long stated: “The disturbing findings contained in this timely report underlines in very stark terms why this inherently abusive and dehumanising so-called ‘therapy’ requires a full ban both North & South – a prohibition that covers everyone in our LGBT+ community and where there are no loopholes that would enable the abuse to continue under false guises.

“It’s now time for Ireland to join the growing number of other countries – Spain just yesterday – in legislating for a comprehensive ban and we look forward to [the] government now bringing forward its proposals to that end.”

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